Here at The DAISY Foundation, we’re reflecting on how some things have changed and how others should remain the same.
Usually around this time of year, we would normally be out and about visiting with nurses, celebrating DAISY Award nominations and honorees. We’d be connecting with the very creative and resourceful committees who run our nurse recognition program in their organizations and hearing the stories of extraordinary care that are the basis of why nurses have been chosen to receive DAISY Awards.
But COVID-19 had other plans for all of us, so we are not traveling much farther than to our mailbox at the end of our driveway.
When we reflect back on 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, who would have thought that in January 2020, the critically important role nurses serve in healthcare would be so publicly revealed?
We used to say that nurses are unsung heroes. Now, nurses are no longer unsung.
But the public outpouring of respect and admiration for nurses and other healthcare workers that was evident early on in the pandemic — the cheers and pot-banging from apartment balconies, fire trucks welcoming the next shift of healthcare workers to their hospitals, neighborhoods sewing masks for their local nurses, deliveries of free pizzas, donuts, and all kinds of food — seems to have stopped.
We worried about what would happen when the public got tired of the pandemic and stopped demonstrating their gratitude to healthcare workers. Now we know. Nurses and other healthcare workers are still dealing with exhaustion from many months of full-time work, caring for very sick patients, worrying that they will have the PPE they need, dealing with their stay-at-home/educate-at-home children, fearing that they could get COVID-19 and infecting someone they love, even re-thinking their career choice, and more.
DAISY Award nominations from colleagues
The public is exhausted, too. Yet those who are patients in the loving and skillful hands of nurses — and their family members — are still driven to share their stories of extraordinary care by writing a DAISY Award nomination.
With fewer visitors in hospitals to witness what nurses are doing, staff are picking up the slack and nominating their co-workers while no longer accepting that the extraordinary things nurses do can be classified as “just doing their jobs.”
Co-workers are writing DAISY Award nominations for nurses who are going above and beyond the above-and-beyond as they safely care for patients and provide human connections with family members who are so critical now when families cannot be there in person.
We have been reading through many of the DAISY Honorees’ stories of 2020. Having read thousands of DAISY Award nominations over the years, we have never been more touched than we are as we read them now. The courage nurses show every day, the quality of care given to all patients (sick with COVID-19 or not), and the love nurses give so many people touch our hearts more deeply than we can describe.
As these most challenging, stressful times ensue, the ritual of recognition is being sustained — even as leaders and DAISY committees need to be a little more creative in making it happen. It is so important that nurses’ stories of care continue to be shared. These stories describe and celebrate the difference that you make.
These stories are prime examples of exemplary behavior that patients and families deeply value. They are a continual reminder of why you wanted to become a nurse to start with. They demonstrate that you must never take what you do for granted because your patients and their families surely do not.
The stories written in DAISY Award nominations shine the light on all the good that is going on in healthcare today. And despite the pandemic’s attack on our society, there is a lot of good going on.
We speak from our experience with our son Patrick’s nurses who cared for him 21 years ago — and who inspired the creation of The DAISY Foundation — when we say that we never forget you and how your compassionate care makes us feel when we are so vulnerable, but in your loving hands. So, despite the tremendous stresses of the past year, please know that all of us at The DAISY Foundation are holding you in our hearts. We believe that it’s always time for meaningful recognition of nurses. Your stories need to be documented, shared, and elevated all year long. You as nurses deserve nothing less.