Jean Marcos Singh of Brazil, Michael Drake of USA, Silvija Sutkutė of Lithuania, Stephan Wengel of Germany, Julia Osiecka of Poland, Markus Suominen of Finland and Caroline Bjarnevi of Sweden are the winners of the Queen Silvia Nursing Award 2021.
The Queen Silvia Nursing Award is an annual award for nurses and nursing students to submit ideas and innovations to improve patient care for older people and people living with dementia.
The Queen Silvia Nursing Award was established by Swedish Care International and the Forum For Elderly Care in 2012 as a gift to Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden in honor of the Queen’s many years of advocacy for better elderly and dementia care, as well as increased competence of dementia diseases within healthcare teams. Her Majesty was a caregiver to Her mother who was diagnosed with dementia in the later years. Her Majesty offers to patronage to other dementia awareness projects such as Dementia Forum X and Stiftelsen Silviahemmet
The Winning Ideas
“Digital Support for Oncology Patients” – Jean Marcos Singh, Nurse at Wecancer online clinic in Brazil.
Jean’s idea proposes the development of a remote assistance service available via web or app which connects healthcare teams with cancer patients throughout their journey against the disease.
Brazil has a population for 14 million individuals over 65 years of age and this number is estimated to reach 39 million by 2040. Cancer incidences are approximately 11 times higher in individuals over 65 years of age than in younger people. 70% of cancer-related deaths also occur within the 65+ age group. The increase of cancer diseases in the elderly causes a higher rate of hospitalization, mental distress and other complications, thus generating an increase in costs and decreased quality of life for both patient and family.
Jean’s idea could minimize risks due to prolonged hospitalization; avoid unnecessary visits to emergency services; improve cancer treatment adherence rates; and ultimately increase the quality of life and survival rates of cancer patients through navigation and care with specialized nursing teams.
”QRx – a platform-agnostic, patient-centered care coordination and transition service” – Michael Drake, Program Assistant Nurse at the University of Washington School of Nursing Dementia and Palliative Education Network (DPEN)
Michael’s idea – QRx – is a safe, secure, easy-to-use mobile platform that patients use to share important information to providers and/or caregivers via an individualized QR code that can be scanned from any device. With QRx, patients can manage, coordinate, and transition their care to whomever they like, wherever they are, and whenever they need it.
Michael states, “Patients with dementia and their caregivers require good care organization and transition management. However, traditional electronic healthcare systems are not designed for ease of use and accessibility; they are often the problem – not the solution.”
QRx was deemed as the most meritorious of all 2021 submissions received by Main Partner University of Washington School of Nursing. According to Dr. Tatiana Sadak, “QRx is innovative, well-developed and on its way towards implementation. Most importantly it is centered on empowering people living with dementia and their care partners to have vital health information that is updated and easily accessible.”
“BusyOLDER” – Silvija Sutkutė, Nurse at LSMU Kauno Klinikos in Lithuania
Silvija’s idea is the development of the “BusyOLDER” mobile app. It would allow older and disabled people an opportunity to order a variety of support activities to their home. The app would unite people who need help with people who are willing to lend a helping hand. “BusyOLDER” could help vulnerable populations decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation.
The activities that can be arranged could be quite varied: from booking a time to chat to taking a walk together; baking a cake or running errands. Recipients may also offer activities in efforts to feel needed and have purpose. Providers may choose whether to receive payment for their services or not.
“Working in a hospital with older people we see how much they need not only physical help, but also mental support. Older or disabled patients may experience extreme loneliness as they might not have many family members left, and their friends might have already passed away. Having someone close may have a miraculous impact. Therefore, in our hospital we try to attract not only personnel with big hearts, but also invite volunteers. When you have someone to lean on, you have less time for sad thoughts. We believe Silvija’s idea may offer significant change to lonely older people. And we are very honored to be a part of a project which aims to address such challenges”, said Kristina Judinė, Managing Director of Lithuanian Main Partner Addere Care.
”Sweet Nutrient Booster for People Living with Dementia” – Stephan Wengel, Nurse at Klinik für Alterpsychiatrie und Psychotherapie ZFP-Emmendingen in Germany
It is not uncommon for dementia patients to forget to eat meals. The reasons could be cognitive, affective or due to motor issues. Because of these missed meals, the lack of nutrients could accelerate the progression of dementia.
This is where Stephan’s innovation of a Sweet Nutrient Booster comes into play. Stephan’s recipe is a sweetened nutrient complex bound with gelatin in a fruity, jelly-like form. They taste and look appealing and may be offered freely for patients who may be missing meals. The colors, flavors and shapes encourage snacking thus promoting regular nutrient absorption.
Says Ulrich Zerhusen, Managing Director of Germany Main Partner St. Anna-Stift Kroge, "Stephan’s innovation in the dietary supplement space for dementia patients is unparalleled. By combining nutritional grade dietary supplementation and the sweet flavor dementia patients prefer into a red gummi form easily and happily eaten, Stephan has changed the way caregivers can provide and monitor nutritional needs. This forward-thinking idea targets the basic dietary needs that are often difficult to provide for dementia patients in an intelligent, thoughtful and delicious way. We are excited and inspired by Stephan and his idea to revolutionize dementia care through nutrition."
”A Trip Down the Memory Lane” – Julia Osiecka, Nursing Student at Warszawski Uniwersytet Medyczny in Poland
Julia’s idea, “A Trip Down the Memory Lane” proposes the research of utilizing virtual reality (VR) technology to enable seniors to re-experience activities they did in their past, in hopes to stimulate positive emotions and memories.
Julia wants to explore how technology can evoke emotions and feelings from a senior’s younger years. Older patients can be introduced to the world of virtual reality and observed to better understand how they benefit from such exposure. Julia would like to examine how this affects a patient’s psychomotor condition, and how it may improve the quality of their health. By leveraging VR on a subconscious level, it may also stimulate conscious actions.
“Julia's idea is an innovative and visionary project that can help overcome the limitations of dependent people. Julia impressed the members of the QSNA Selection Board with her speech, her clear vision of how to realise her idea, and her charisma. She convinced us that future technologies can help us return to the past – back to the times when we weren’t constrained, and all our dreams were within reach. Julia is involved in work for the community and has interesting passions and interests. Like the Queen Silvia Nursing Award project itself, Julia shows us that nursing can be a challenging, innovative and forward-thinking profession,” says Marcin Radziwiłł, President of the Medicover Foundation, Main Partner in Poland.
“Transparent Reporting Portal” – Markus Suominen, Paramedic Student at Turun ammattikorkeakoulu in Finland
Markus’ winning idea allows healthcare professionals to quickly and easily report their workplace grievances - such as understaffing, harrassment or heavy workload - transparently while respecting personal information and anonymity.
Markus is convinced that better working conditionswould provide older people and people living with dementia access to evenbetter care. Healthcare professionals can provide better, less rushed, and morepersonal care if they are content with their working environment.
The Finnish Jury was convinced of Markus’ dedication to this idea as he had already brought it to his local university hospital and healthcare district – both of which have expressed interest in the project. The combination of Markus’ concept, commitment to improving workplace conditions for better patient outcomes, and interest in growing the attractiveness of the nursing profession ultimately motivated the Finnish jury to award this year’s honor to Markus.
”Memory book with music” – Caroline Bjarnevi, Nursing Student at Röda Korsets Högskola in Sweden
"Memory book with music" is a classic hand-held book that can be personalised with photographs and audio recordings to stimulate memories for people who may be isolated or living with dementia.
These books are currently available for children. As a children’s book the pages are filled with illustrations and text; and along the side of the book there are buttons that play audio recordings offering narration or musical clips. Caroline suggests that these books are personalized for older recipients instead. The pages could contain favorite photos and images from the past, while the audio recordings could be personalized with the narration of a memorable occasion, messages of encouragement and good will from loved ones, or even favorite music songs.
The Swedish Jury were moved by this Caroline’s idea as it gives caregivers a hands-on opportunity to become involved in creating a tool for their loved ones living with a dementia diagnosis. There are a multitude of benefits in the creation of a physical book that contains not only images but also audio recordings explicitly made for the patient in mind. This personalized book may inspire positive memories, reduce anxiety or worry, and bridge any feelings of isolation through the voices, stories and music from loved ones.
I chose to become a nurse with utmost responsibility. I analyzed my inner desires, abilities and possibilities. I realized that I wanted to help people on a daily basis. I chose nursing studies because nurses are closest to people, and they are the first to notice changes in a patient’s health, and can provide help. It is a very meaningful profession. And that is what fascinates me the most.
I also like the work of a nurse because you can choose a flexible work schedule and different working environment. There is also a wide range of career opportunities - you can choose a clinical career, explore the path of a researcher, or become a lecturer.
I would recommend nursing to people who want diversity in their lives. In doing this job, every day is different. There are good days, there are bad ones. But when you see an improvement in a person's health, a widening smile - every day becomes amazing.
I am currently not only working, but also studying advanced nursing practice at the primary health care level. This is a master's study program at the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences. I chose these studies because I want to stay closer to clinical procedures and closer to the patient. These studies allow nurses to deepen the knowledge of clinical pharmacology, and increase the knowledge of health assessment and management of urgent and chronic conditions. I am particularly interested in this field of study because it is not focused on the routine performance of tasks, but on the patient himself. I hope to use all the knowledge gained during my studies in a working environment.
In the future, I would very much like to go on a business trip abroad so that I may compare the Lithuanian health system with other countries. I dream that in 10 years I will have accumulated enough knowledge to be able to pass it onto nursing students. I see myself as a leader in advanced nursing practice, where I will have my patients and can help them stay in good health, noticing any potential health problems along the way.
I started my working career during the pandemic. I wanted to stay strong, to accept the lost opportunities of life. I had a goal to go to work where I could learn as much as possible. I chose to work in the endocrinology department, in the diabetology sector. This was my first job. Although I used to tell myself that I would never go to such a department to work, I realized that I had to go beyond my comfort to achieve what I wanted. I have learned a lot in the field of diabetes through the wonderful team working there.
As the number of patients with COVID19 increased, a new ward opened in our hospital. I went to work there and the first days were especially hard. This unit treats severe patients of various profiles. We worked protected by layers of PPE, hour after hour, without water or time to go to the toilet. There was also enormous emotional strain when you witnessed the seriousness of the virus! After each round, we too were afraid of infection and the risk of bringing the virus home to our loved ones.
After a while, working conditions improved, we had more time to rest, to get water, to recover after work. As the number of covid-19 patients decreased, I started looking for another job. I chose to work in a family medical clinic. That was another big challenge for me. I had to work with patients of all ages who report a variety of health problems. But the colleagues and the dynamic work helped me integrate into the team. I was soon offered a job in the thoracic surgery department. Today, I am very pleased that I have accepted the proposal. The team is great and the work is engaging.
For people who are considering a future in nursing, I would advise you take a closer look at the day-to-day working environment as much as possible; perhaps even volunteer at a hospital. This would make the decision more reality based. You can get a sense of whether you can relate to a future of care and patient work.
Life also fascinates me with the fact that something unexpected and very pleasant can always happen. Participating in QSNA is one such case in my life. At the university, I heard about the Queen Silvia Nursing Award in Sweden. I am glad that such honorable initiatives are reaching Lithuania! And I am grateful to Addere Care for organizing this competition of ideas in Lithuania. I decided to take part in the competition on the last evening of submitting ideas and applications. I suggested creating an app that could help reduce social exclusion. This app can improve patients ’quality of life and slightly reduce the workload of nurses. I will make this app a reality because I believe it is really needed in our society.
1. What sparked your interest in nursing studies?
I started my nursing studies by observing the way my mother always took care and still takes care of family members. I always saw her as the family nurse. This was certainly my biggest inspiration to study nursing.
2. What is it about nursing that continues to intrigue you, or keeps you learning and “on your toes”?
I work in oncology. As one of the most advanced areas in medicine today, there are new treatments regarding care devices, molecules, etc. Also because we work with innovation, there are always new ways of doing things, new ways of looking at everyday situations and pain. Entrepreneurship and curiosity keep me on my toes when it comes to caring.
3. How did you come about specializing in cancer care?
My specialization took place in 2 years, in what we call in Brazil "Multiprofessional Residency in Oncology". In this learning modality, I spent 2 years in one of the most renowned teaching hospitals in Brazil, Hospital São Paulo (Federal and University Hospital of the Federal University of São Paulo).
During this period, working and studying 60 hours a week (a little bit more when I was on call at the weekend), it was possible to go through all the cancer care environments and learn with a lot of practical content to practice specialized and scientific nursing in an environment with many adversities.
4. Where do you see yourself as a nurse leader in 10 years?
For the next 10 years, I want to be one of the Brazilian and, perhaps international, references in digital care for patients with cancer and other chronic-degenerative diseases. I hope to be able to contribute to science and leave a legacy not only of knowledge, but of practice that transforms reality.
5. What do you wish to share about your nursing experience since the start of the pandemic?
The pandemic showed us, Brazilian nurses, how cruel and devastating an unprepared and authoritarian government can be not only with the population, but also with the health professionals of our country. For several moments, I saw fellow nurses and friends reach mental and physical exhaustion due to the health crisis that enveloped our country.
What I want to share is a request: that, as citizens, we must respect and help nurses and their teams by supporting them and valuing their work. No health service in Brazil would be able to maintain itself without nursing, without systematic and scientific care.
6. How have you remained resilient throughout these very tough few years as a healthcare professional?
Maintaining resilience is very difficult in a time as dark as the one we are experiencing and it is because of seeing so many people suffering from delays in the health system, unavailability of professionals, sudden increase in demand for COVID in treatment centers and the fear of the disease itself. illness and adverse events, that I try to remain confident and as safe as possible to help these people.
7. What is your advice to nursing students who are just entering their studies / nurses who are just entering the industry?
Nursing is a profession that requires not only the hands that work, but also the brain that thinks about reality (and the problems it presents), and seeks intelligent solutions that help everyone involved. We must start our careers as nurses not by "putting ourselves in a cast", but by untying the knots that hold us in the sameness of "performing a task here, another there". Nursing has many brilliant minds and it certainly thinks of projects that can change the reality of people who go through health problems.
8. How did you learn about the QSNA and what prompted you to apply?
I learned about the Queen Silvia Nursing Award from Sweden from a colleague and I applied because I believe that my work has a lot to do with presenting potential solutions to major challenges in public and private health in Brazil. The focus here is on maintaining savings for both systems, as well as making the journey of cancer patients safer and more complete, as they undergo complex, expensive treatments that considerably reduce their quality of life.
9. Summarize your winning idea in a sentence and please let us know why you think this is important to share with the international nursing community?
Digital support, remote monitoring and care focused on the quality of life of cancer patients.
Since 2017, large studies have been published in the largest oncology congresses in the world and tell us about the fundamental importance of having qualified professionals available to patients with chronic-degenerative diseases outside the hospital environment. Many of them demonstrate significant improvement in quality of life, adherence to treatment, communication with the health team, reduction of unnecessary visits to treatment centers, early identification of potentially fatal situations and increase in survival rates, reaching even higher levels than new drugs.
The importance of quality digital support also comes from the global industry 4.0 movement, innovation and digital transformation. Patient care will be directly linked to this in a few years, and many will have greater access to quality healthcare.
10. Will you be bringing your winning idea further, i.e. to market or to development?
Yes! I want to learn more and more about how to transform the current Brazilian reality and I seek support from people who can encourage my ideas and help me leverage digital support for patients not only oncology, but with chronic-degenerative diseases in the country.
The central idea is to promote quality of life through an application with easy access to multi professional teams that guide and make the journeys of these patients increasingly lighter and safer, through telecare, pharmacovigilance, guidelines for self-care, reporting center of symptoms, navigation center, multidisciplinary assistance from diagnosis to outcome, whatever it may be.
Finally, I am immensely grateful to everyone involved for the opportunity to take my project this far.
What sparked your interest in nursing studies?
After my technical training, I really wanted to do something with people. After pursuing a voluntary social year, I decided to train in nursing.
What is it about nursing that continues to intrigue you, or keeps you learning and “on your toes?”
Personal growth is what drives me, that I want to develop and learn. Someone once said to me, "If you want to change something in nursing, you have to stand up, then you can achieve something!"
How did you come about specializing in dementia care?
I originally wanted to go into pediatric nursing, but I couldn't emotionally process this work well. That's why I then specialized in the elderly. I wanted to help enable them to have a nice old age. I then switched to neurology because the field fascinates me so much!
Is there something unique about nursing opportunities in Germany that you can share?
In Germany, the form of training is very special. Instead of studying nursing at a university, there is a dual system with school visits and work in different institutions, where you can already earn a salary. This form of training also makes it easier for people changing their career to learn this great job!
Where do you see yourself as a nurse leader in 10 years?
I can't really answer that as there are so many possibilities! I could become anything I want. I could be an entrepreneur myself, or continue to work in nursing as a ward manager, in nursing management or even in politics. In any case, I really hope that my winning idea of the fruit gums is well received!
What do you wish to share about your nursing experience since the start of the pandemic?
Unfortunately I can't say much positive about it. I am a bit disappointed with the politicians and their measures. I myself try to do my best on the ward I manage and I demand the same from my employees! I wish there was more cohesion among nurses!
How have you remained resilient throughout these very tough few years as a healthcare professional?
With a lot of confidence and an open mind! Sometimes you have to say when something is wrong and fight to make things better. And above all, don't lose your sense of humour!
What is your advice to nursing students who are just entering their studies / nurses who are just entering the industry?
I would like to advise those changing thier career to dare and gladly, even if you are not that young, to start an apprenticeship! I would advise all nursing students to persevere, hardly any profession is as diverse as nursing and full of so many great stories!
How did you learn about the QSNA and what prompted you to apply?
To be honest, I didn't know anything about QSNA for a long time until a colleague came up to me and told me about the award. My idea of the Sweet Nutrient Booster was already slowly forming in my head there and I had told her about it, she advised me to apply! I like Sweden very much and even have friends there, so I quickly made the decision to apply!
Summarize your winning idea in a sentence and please let us know why you think this is important to share with the international nursing community?
It is a fruit gum with many nutrients that are important for nutrition, which are particularly suitable for older people and people with dementia due to their colour, consistency and taste. What is special is the form of the application, as older people and people with dementia can independently supply themselves with important nutrients without the caregivers having to take up a lot of time! Besides, everyone likes to snack!
Will you be bringing your winning idea further, i.e. to market or to development?
It is my great wish to bring my Sweet Nutrient Booster onto the market and I am already in talks with different companies about it! I'm sure that it won't be long before my fruit gum is available to everyone and can help many people!
Michael is an entrepreneur and a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing student in his last semester at the University of Washington School of Nursing. He has over five years of experience as a family caregiver, Certified Nursing Assistant, and Nurse Tech working in memory care, long term care, and special education. His passion in nursing centers around healthcare technology, dementia care, palliative, and hospice care – especially where they all meet together.
The Winning Idea
Michael’s winning idea for the Queen Silvia Nursing Award 2022 is the QRx: a patient-centered medical record system built from the ground up to be easy to use and accessible. Its design is centered around accessibility and ease of use for all types of people, as well as care coordination/transition management. QRx would utilize scannable QR codes in a healthcare setting to enable patient identification, authorization, and care coordination via sharing of information.
Electronic Health Records (EHR), or Electronic Medical Records (EMR) are overarching terms for medical documentation systems that store information in secure databases. When a patient enters a medical setting, their providers document all care interactions using their organizations EMR/EHR. In the U.S., there are several large and small organizations that provide EMR/EHR solutions. Most EMR/EHR systems compete; as a result, they aren’t designed to don’t work together or allow patients or care teams from competing organizations to access patient data. As a result, it can be very difficult for patients and healthcare teams in the US to access information stored in a competing system – even if both systems are treating the same patient.
A good example would be X-Ray’s or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans. If a patient receives an x-ray or does an MRI scan at a hospital or clinic that uses one EMR, doctors at another hospital using a competing EMR can’t access it. At this point, patients are often forced to repeat tests or procedures like X-Rays and MRIs at the hospital that couldn’t access the information. Not only can these be uncomfortable and even painful for patients, the process of repeating diagnostic procedures between hospitals means that they pay twice for the same procedure.
Michael hopes to fix this problem with his solution: QRx. QRx empowers patients to take ownership of their healthcare information, and present it to any caregiver, family member, provider, or nurse they see in their healthcare journey. Since QRx is patient-centered and accessible on multiple devices, it can be used to scan and save healthcare information, then present it to whomever needs it. In the example above, patients could take pictures or download their X-Ray or MRI results at one organization, save it into QRx, and send it to their care team at another. Information is shared quickly, easily, and with no additional cost to the patient. QRx can do this because it is designed as a web application; anyone with a device and an internet connection can use it. QR codes make it easy for a care team, caregivers, or patients to scan, identify, and use the system.
QRx is especially useful for patients with complex care needs such as patients with dementia, as they tend to use and require healthcare from multiple parties. They have caregivers – family or otherwise – specialists, providers, nurses, and others in their care team managing their care. In the US, it’s not common for one patient to use one EMR system across this care continuum, which is why it’s important that a solution be created with accessibility and ease of use in mind. QRx aims to do just that.
What drew Michael to the field of nursing & creation of QRx?
Michael was the caregiver for his mother when she developed a brain tumor in her 60s. He attributes much of his desire to enter the nursing field to providing end-of-life and memory care for his mother. Later, as he gained more experience in nursing, he was inspired by the personalized patient-care they provide to patients. He discovered the enormous challenge of coordinating care in the current healthcare system. Shortly after a tumor was discovered inside her brain, the care team working with Michael’s mother decided they needed more information to see if it was cancer or not. They requested an MRI scan but ran into a problem: she had a pacemaker. Many people with pacemakers cannot get an MRI due to magnetic interaction from the magnets inside the machine. However, some pacemakers are safe for MRI scans, so her care team went searching for her medical records.
Unfortunately, they were met with endless barriers to accessing her healthcare information, despite it being vital information that she was entitled to. In the end, the care team was unable to find a record of the surgery that would describe what pacemaker she had and were forced to undergo an invasive brain surgery to sample and diagnose the tumor. For Michael, his mother, and her care team, it was easier for the healthcare system to make his mother undergo a new, high-risk procedure– brain surgery– than it was to obtain her own healthcare history data.
Michael knew there must be a better way to obtain and track healthcare data, and thus, solving this problem became his passion as a nursing student.
Michael was referred to the QNSA website by Dr. Tatiana Sadak, a Graduate Program Director and leader on many Dementia and Alzheimer’s related initiatives at the University of Washington School of Nursing. He related to Her Majesty’s journey as a caregiver to Her mother, as Michael too had been through a very similar experience. He appreciated the recognition Her Majesty has brought to the importance of providing good dementia care and appreciated the opportunities the Queen Silvia Award would provide, like networking with other winners and leaders in the nursing field. QRx is in early development, and currently in the customer research phase of LEAN process – a framework for building applications and starting a business.
Michael’s Advice for New Nurses
Michael believes that nurses center much of their professional lives putting patients first, and that can sometimes cause issues like compassion fatigue and burnout. In the process, they often forget to care for themselves. He believes that through intentional self-care, they can center themselves, prevent burnout, and compassion fatigue so that they can be ready to help others in need. For Michael, self-care means making time for hobbies, passions, and intentional rest. He enjoys playing video games, as they provide a therapeutic space for him to play and process his experiences as a nurse.
After having her first child and experiencing the beauty of caring for a newborn, Caroline was drawn to nursing. Her initial passion was to work in pediatric and postpartum care. But surprisingly, once she entered the field, she fell in love with people on the opposite end of life: older patient care, geriatrics, and palliative care. Caroline has always cared for people and emphasized a desire to give her whole heart to her patients.
Caroline plans to take Sweden’s national nursing license exam in June 2022 and is extremely excited about the future. She hopes that there can be a safe in-person graduation ceremony despite the pandemic.
The Winning Idea
Caroline’s interactions with geriatric care did not begin with her nursing rotations. Prior to nursing, she already had a close and loving relationship with Lasse, her grandfather-in-law, who has been hospitalized for a number of years. Prior to the pandemic, she would often visit him for a coffee and they would talk for hours.
But with the pandemic, visits all but stopped. Although public health measures were necessary, both Caroline and her grandfather-in-law suffered for it. And once visits began, Lasse, who is now over 90 years old, began to develop memory issues and showed signs of dementia. She felt heartbroken to have lost so much precious time.
Between caring for her 4 children, studying for her degree, and a one hour commute to Lasse’s home, Caroline’s visits could rarely happen more than once a week. She wanted him to have a way to feel her loving presence even when she was not there.
Caroline’s winning idea is an interactive photo album. Photos can be a powerful tool to connect the elderly to joyful memories from the past. And a photo album with audio such as music and pre-recorded messages such as the voices of loved one’s would elevate these memories even more. This photo album could help a hospital-bound patient, especially one living with dementia, feel the love and presence of their friends and family whenever they need it.
While Caroline has not begun the prototyping or technical development of her idea, she is excited to expand on it after she graduates and passes her examination. She plans to seek help in the actual development of her idea in the future.
What drew Caroline to the field of nursing?
Aside from her own personal experience and natural desire to care for people, Caroline thinks that the nursing field is full of inspirational people. Even throughout her hospital rotations, she has met many people with great problem solving skills.
Caroline is drawn to the field of nursing for its people and patient-care relationship opportunities. She hopes to be a palliative care nurse leader after graduation and adjusting to her role as a nurse.
Nursing in Sweden
Caroline believes nurses can make a huge impact on patients’ lives in Sweden. There has been a recent exodus of midwives from their profession in the country. She states that Swedish midwives are mostly leaving due to short staffing, that results in rushing from patient to patient without having enough time to care for their birthing experience. Similar to international nursing challenges, a shortage of talent and pay have been stressful issues that she hopes healthcare leaders and institutions work to solve.
The Queen Silvia Nursing Award
Caroline learned about the Queen Silvia Nursing Award at her nursing school since it is a program based out of Sweden. Part of the QSNA team showed up in her classroom and told her that even a small idea can make a difference. But to see it take root, she needed the courage to apply.
Inspired, Caroline applied in her first year of school, and every year since. With persistence, she became a winner in 2021. The award meetings, networking, and support all enticed her to apply. She eagerly encourages Swedish nurses and nursing students to apply as well.
Advice for New Nursing Students
Caroline’s advice to nursing students is to rest as much as possible. Nursing is exhausting work and she recommends that they rest whenever they can.
She advises students not to procrastinate assignments and to take everything one week at a time. Personally, she plans out Monday to Friday, ensuring she has time to care for her children, work on nursing school assignments into the night, and still get rest. She encourages students to enjoy weekends and holidays so they do not get overwhelmed.
Personal life stories are critical to the successful care of people living with dementia. Finding relaxing activities that are tailor-made to touch upon the person’s life history provides a great deal of meaning and wellbeing for his/her care. Unfortunately, during these COVID-19times, options to explore and go out are scarce.
My idea is to provide patients with an opportunity to revisit familiar places from their past through interactive video walks. The recorded walk would include both audio and video, and most importantly be filmed in a place of familiarity from the patient’s life – perhaps a neighborhood where he grew up; or perhaps walks in the forest with a dog if she did this as a child.
The ambition is to provide meaning, revive memories, and reduce anxiety and fear for dementia-diagnosed patients during tough COVID-19 conditions. I want to make this time more meaningful and interesting for our patients, and for them to revisit a life and time in the past that was a little more joyful and light.
Fighting COVID-19 or being infected asymptomatically does not mean that there will no longer be any problems for patients. People who have had the disease complain about a weakened state of the body, and there are reports (The New England Journal of Medicine)of those who have been infected – including asymptomatically having a higher risk of stroke.
My idea is to assign a health visitor to patients who have hadCOVID-19. A nurse would regularly perform a telehealth interview, and then perhaps once a month make a physical visit to the patient’s home to conduct a clinical exam, an interview, and take blood for laboratory tests. The patient would have access to the nurse via telephone to raise any concerns of changing symptoms. The nurse would in turn coordinate efforts with health authorities.
My hope is that this type of monitoring of would help present and control complications after battling COVID-19. Monitoring and assessing patients after their illness would improve our overall treatment response in the future.
FinnHELP offers free, short-term discussion assistance for Finland’s healthcare professionals who are experiencing exhaustion or stress during our ongoing fight againstCOVID-19.During this time, we’ve been hosting video chat meetings for mentally and physically exhausted colleagues. We want to support their mental resilience and let them share their experience. We will publish more detailed results from FinnHELP discussions in the near future.
In April 2020, FinnHELP built a website, recruited professional support (crisis care professionals with expertise in acute care challenges), and built an appointment system for Finland's healthcare professionals.
Our fellow healthcare colleagues found us through an extensive national membership and social media follows.
During the pandemic, oral communication between patients and nurses has declined due to the high risk of infections. Patients often press the call button as they lack attention, communication, or support; and this has become even more apparent due to the restrictions on outside visitors.
For nurses, this presents a particularly stressful situation in which they are providing support and oftentimes non-health related information continuously along with the procedural and documentation work that must coincide with the call.
My idea is to facilitate patient to nurse communication and other healthcare professionals while avoiding potential infection risk with face-to-face contact.
As voice messaging is a very relevant part of our modern life and eases communications greatly, I would like to propose a similar idea in healthcare facilities as well. It may not always be necessary for a nurse to visit the patient. Perhaps a patient would like to ask for some help or information which might not be particularly urgent.
With “Voice Letters”, a patient can send a voice mail to the nurses station, where the team can receive and document the request. The nurses would be able to assess the urgency of the message, and prepare a response accordingly. I believe that this form of communication would be more useful than the usual call button, as oftentimes it is unclear whether the request is urgent or not.
My mother-in-law, living with both dementia and Parkinson's disease, murmurs, "I forget" quite often. What if dementia patients had a software app addressing the memory loss, isolation from family and friends during COVID-19, and the need for mental stimulation? What if this app also included all of their current medical and self-care needs as well as current caregivers and daily schedule? The app would also contain some of the patients life prior to memory loss.
My idea is ”Wait! I Remember!” -a three-part software app for tablets.
Part one: compilation of patient information, including appointments, self-care, medications, and allergies.
Part two: descriptions of caregivers, doctors, family/friends, personal history of the patient with photos and videos.
Part three: matching games from Part two content. Friends and family could upload photos, stories, and videos to be posted and cataloged on Part two.
When a dementia patient poses a question, the caregiver refers the patient to the app to and the answer.
The overall goal being patient engagement and reducing caregiver fatigue. During COVID-19, the app would help bring family and friends into the patient's world virtually keeping all of us safe. At the same time, the patient could play matching games that reflect their current life but also past memories.
Family could upload funny stories, pictures of grandkids or previous pets and the patient could match those pictures with names to stimulate brain activity and reduce the isolation of COVID-19.
Special thanks to Medicover Foundation, the Main Partner of the Queen Silvia Nursing Award in Poland, for the original version of this interview with 2021 winner, Julia Osiecka.
The below is an English translation of the original which can be found here.
Julia – could you please tell us more about yourself? Could you please share something about your hometown and early inspirations that led you to study nursing?
Warsaw is my hometown, this is where I grew up and where I lived my younger years. I graduated from three schools in Warsaw: Primary School No. 267 named after Juliusz Słowacki in Żoliborz, Junior High School No. 165 named after Joachim Lelewel and Bilingual Secondary School named after Stefania Sempołowska.
I didn't have one particular inspiration to study nursing. I have always been interested in topics related to medicine. As a child, I read colorful books about the human body, then I watched series and movies about doctors and health care. As an teenager, I devoured scientific articles and biographies of people associated with medicine.
The role of a nurse is close to the patient and his/her needs, and I love people. I believe that humans are beautiful and unexplored, extremely interesting in every way. I wanted a career and knowledge that would bring about good and serve the public.
This is why I chose nursing.
How did you get interested in the Queen Silvia Nursing Award?
The Queen Silvia Nursing Award competition, which I found out about while at my university, struck me as extremely interesting. I decided to participate in the competition and a chance for great success.
Life has shown me many times that dreams will not come to us and we will not be rewarded if we don’t try different things and use the opportunities we get to rise higher each and every day. That's what I decided to do, to take advantage of the chance to make my dreams come true.
Where did the idea for the project "A Trip Down the Memory Lane" come from?
The idea is the result of observing the world and our personal experiences. By sending my competition application, I wanted to propose something new and unknown. Before "A Trip Down the Memory Lane" was written, I had many more ideas in my head, but none of them seemed to stick.
I believe that modern technology is the future, also in the world of medicine. Recalling my own experiences, what was interesting to me, what I shared with others, I decided to write a project related to virtual reality. Reading various books and scientific articles related to the challenges of the elderly, and being a direct witness to them, I came to the conclusion that this is the idea I wanted to share with the world.
What was the challenge for you in the competition?
The biggest challenge for me was to defend my idea before the Queen Silvia Nursing Award Jury.
How would you like your winning project to benefit older people and people living with dementia?
I would like my project to bring joy to the elderly and people living with dementia. I want them to know that they are not forgotten by society.
How do you intend to use the Award and the learning and networking opportunities?
I intend to gain as much experience as possible and use all the opportunities for personal development and implementation of my winning idea.
What are your next steps related to your victory in the 6th Polish edition of the Queen Silvia Nursing Award competition?
The next steps related to winning the Queen Silvia Nursing Award will be my participation in the learning and networking opportunities, as well as gradual attempts to implement the idea.
As a joint nursing & advanced level paramedic student at Turku University of Applied Sciences (www.tuas.fi), Markus Suominen is currently taking extra hospital training to prepare for a career within the Emergency Services field. He is set to graduate in Spring 2023, a semester earlier than expected.
Markus’ dream is to be an emergency medicine (EM) nurse due to the fast-paced environment and day-to-day surprises. Ten years from now, he hopes to be in a leadership or supervisory role within emergency care. Markus’ ambition is to have a long-established career of innovative research & development within the nursing profession.
The Winning Idea
In Markus’ first caregiving job, he noticed that the nurses were unhappy with many working conditions and triggers. The nurses only brought up the most serious issues to management, leaving many challenges unaddressed. This created an unhealthy “deal with it” mentality that many healthcare workers can relate to in their own workplace.
Markus’ idea was create a workplace reporting portal. Nurses can report grievances through an online portal. These grievances are sent directly to management. From there, the complaint is also displayed anonymously on the website connected to the exact unit/hospital where the complaint was filed. This allows for more transparency surrounding the “health” of workplace environment. Any licensed nurse can log onto the website and view grievances related to specific units, thus facilitating more transparency about potential issues when applying for jobs.
When management resolves issues, the portal will reflect a drop in complaints over time, and therefore, the unit looks better to prospective nurses. The online data will show any improving or worsening trends. This acts as a tool of accountability for nurses to report grievances, management to fix issues, and units to attract nursing talent. The workplace portal will be similar to the website Glassdoor, which offers data on workplaces to job seekers.
Mother knows best!
Markus’ mother, who has been a nurse for 30 years, told him that his character would fit the field. She thought he would be an amazing nurse and although Markus was hesitant at first, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was meant for the career as well.
At Turku UAS, more than 2000 applicants applied for his current nurse/paramedic program and yet only 24 candidates were selected. Markus was one of them.
Nursing in Finland
Markus shared that Finland is undergoing a major restructuring of healthcare, social welfare and rescue services. By 2023, the responsibility for these services will be transferred from municipalities to wellbeing services counties. There will be a total of 21 self-governing wellbeing services counties, with decision-making power exercised by a county council. (Learn more by visiting this link.)
The Queen Silvia Nursing Award
Markus found the Queen Silvia Nursing Award through a social media advertisement and realized that his workplace portal idea could be an implementable and unique submission. He had already brainstormed the workplace portal idea and realized that the QSNA could propel him to bring it to life. He is very proud to represent nursing in Finland as a QNSA scholar and to be a part of the future of nursing. And he recommends that anyone who is considering applying to the QNSA to absolutely do so.
Advice for New Nurses
Markus has three words for any incoming nursing students and new graduate nurses: “Read, read, read.” He encourages nurses to be interested in more than just what they learn in school, because school can never teach everything they need to know about the world. He hopes all new nurses keep an inquisitive mind and turn to the literature.
Antibiotic infusions are being prescribed more frequently during the COVID-19 pandemic. My idea is to improve the process for the preparation of antibiotic infusions so more time may be spent on patient care.
Today, these infusions are often in the form of a powder that must be dissolved in solvents. I suggest the creation of a sterile bar that can be inserted into the solution in efforts to mix it safely and quickly.
I developed a mechanism in the transfer cannula that allows the sterile stirring bar to drop into the solution without coming into contact with the outside environment.
I noticed during my rotation in gerontology and vascular surgery that nursing teams frequently had difficulties dissolving the powder into the solvent. This is made even more challenging because antibiotics are not to be shaken so to avoid small air bubbles.
In alleviating and easing the process of mixing antibiotic infusions, nursing teams can spend valuable time on caring for patients instead. There are many older people who are in the COVID-19risk group, and they are particularly prone to infections, especially since they have a higher chance of having a weakened immune system. I hope my idea improves the care process by allowing more time for interpersonal care for at-risk patients during these challenging times.