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Archive News 2015

The St Patrick’s Mental Health Services Nurse Graduation

St Patrick's Mental Health Services held its annual Nurse Graduation Ceremony on Thursday November 12th 2015. Those that graduated were: Erin Matthews, Diarmuid Lynch, Tracy Crowne, Vicki McCarthy, Irene Asika and Eimear Murphy and Cian Kelly (in absentia). Erin Matthews was awarded the St Patrick's Mental Health Services award for academic achievement. Staff nurse Paula Keeshan’s achievement as the Trinity College Dublin, School of Nursing and Midwifery Preceptor of the year award for 2015 was also acknowledged.

Spiritual Experience and Religious Socialisation in Childhood as Foundational in a life

The Spirituality Interest Group, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, hosted its first Public Lecture of the 2015-2016 series on November 26th.

Spiritual Experience and Religious Socialisation in Childhood as Foundational in a life" by Dr.Michael O'Sullivan.

Dr. Michael O'Sullivan, a Jesuit priest, is Executive Director of SpIRE, the Spirituality Institute for Research and Education in Dublin, Ireland.

He is a Research Fellow of the University of the Free State, South Africa, and a founding Board of Directors member of the European Centre for the Academic Study of Christian Spirituality hosted at the University of Zurich. He has served on the Governing Board of the largely North American international Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality (SSCS), and the Steering Committee of the Christian Spirituality Study Group of the American Academy of Religion. He currently serves on the International Relations Committee, and the Promotions Committee, of SSCS, and on the Editorial Board of Spiritus, the premier international journal of its kind.

He worked as a missionary in Latin America and has extensive experience living and working with socio-economically disadvantaged people in Ireland, Latin America, and East Africa.

An exploration of the extent to which communication skills teaching adequately prepares nursing students for practice

Prof. Jacqueline Whelan presents the first poster prepared by members of the NU1S02 Communication Skills teaching team in Cambridge UK in September 2015.

The title of the poster was: An exploration of the extent to which communication skills teaching adequately prepares nursing students for practice

It was prepared by Fiona Timmins, Jacqueline Whelan, Sinead Buckley, Yvonne Muldowney, and Sandra McCarthy, S.  and was presented at NET2015 26th International Networking for Healthcare Education Conference. Tuesday 8th-Thursday 10th  September 2015: Churchill College, Cambridge, UK


“BudEmuS” The School of Nursing and Midwifery are delighted to announce the launch of our @BudEmuS’ programme. A student lead support network for our visiting Erasmus body. The venture is driving by our Erasmus Lead Mr. Pádraig Dunne in an attempt to improve our student experience when visiting the School and our health Service Partner’s.

Trinity Nursing Academic Leads Health Work in Calais

During the first week of October 2015, Trinity academic, Dr. Fintan Sheerin, led the Health Team in the first Ireland to Calais Refugee Solidarity Convoy. Dr. Sheerin is a lecturer in intellectual disability nursing with 25 years’ experience. His research work is primarily with people who experience marginalisation and human rights deprivation: people with intellectual disabilities; rural communities in Malawi; and refugees. He is co-director of the interdisciplinary and international research project, Transformative Praxis Malawi and writes extensively on areas of social justice. He teaches human rights on the BSc in Nursing (Intellectual Disability) and on the MSc in Disability Studies as well as co-leading the undergraduate elective module, People on the Margins of Irish Society. In this piece, he writes personally and emotively of his experiences in Calais, drawing together thoughts on humanisation, dehumanisation, inclusion and exclusion, concepts central to the School of Nursing and Midwifery’s Population Health, Healthcare and Innovation research agenda. He challenges us, as students, academics and humans to consider our position in relation to these concepts.
As I reflect on my recent visit to the refugee ‘camp’ in Calais, I do so with a lingering sense of anger at the terrible injustice that is being afforded these people, our fellow humans, these ‘children of Adam and Eve’. I don't think that this anger will abate and, to be honest, I don’t want it to because I have spent too many years of my life, happily blinkered like so many other people, against the realities of those who have been forced to the margins of society…getting on with my life. In essence, we are saying ‘To hell with them all!’
I recall standing in a lodge by Lake Malawi; beautiful scenery in front of us and desolate poverty outside the lodge gates. When asked for their opinion on that poverty, two young white South African backpackers replied ‘F*** them all! We don't care about them!’ I understand now that we are, in reality, no different to those young men.
The margins that exist on the edge of our blinkered consciousness are vast spaces, populated by those whose diversity is considered by the rest of us to be so deviant as to be acceptable. These spaces are realities that we often do not enter…places where qualitatively different things happen and where the shared values of our society are not applied. They are parallel realities. As I entered Calais, I saw young men moving in groups to form a larger force so as to try and break through the barriers and escape to the United Kingdom. They moved silently past the French houses, stopping to rest under the motorway bridges. It reminded me of the old Celtic stories in which there existed two parallel worlds: our world and that of the suppressed fairy folk. In this situation, though, these suppressed folk were the young men moving in a world parallel to that of the native French existing, not as part of their reality, but rather as another which was in constant movement, seeking inclusion and respite.
Visiting the refugee ‘camp’ was not my first entry into such a reality; I have engaged in the realities of people with disabilities, with people in rural parts of Africa and with those in the city slums. It was, however, my first entry into this reality, and one which gave me some small understanding of the situation of the people living there. The great Brazilian educator, Paolo Freire wrote of the need to come to knowledge of the other through dialogue and engagement. He argued that this was the way to becoming solidary with the other and,thus, to achieving true solidarity. I feel that I have come to know something of the reality of these other people and it is in this knowledge that my anger is grounded; an anger which drives me to want to fight alongside my fellow humans.
I use the word ‘camp’ guardedly, for this is no camp! My idea of a camp is of a space, bounded by a fence, with structure, order and services. This is not like that! There is no such boundary, save that created by the ever-attendant riot police. There is no real order or structure outside of that which has been developed by the people themselves. And, shamefully, there are no services, no sanitary facilities, no clean water, no safety and no public health. Indeed, the only thing that the French government has placed in this ‘camp’ is the police! The utter disgrace is that this exists in a rich 21st Century European country which supposedly prides itself on the values of its republic: liberty, equality and fraternity. It is also a desperate indictment on us all, in the wider European region, that we have stood by and accepted this, making excuses which have dehumanise these people in our eyes and justified our exclusion of them. That this camp has existed for 8 years is evidence of our inaction and culpability.
One Iraqi man told me of the torture he had endured when held for a month by ISIS. As he showed me the marks that the hot poker made on his ankles, and described the daily threat of having his throat slit, he explained: ‘They tortured me and treated me as an animal’. He continued, though, and describing his current predicament noted that ‘In Europe, they do not torture me, but they still treat me like an animal’. Indeed, others noted that animals had more rights in Europe than they do! Despite the situation of these people, however, and the inhumanity afforded them by Europeans, it was humbling to experience the warmth and humanity that these people afforded us; the welcome, the etiquette, the generosity, the tolerance and the manners. The question as to who is really dehumanised in situations such as this is a pertinent one! Freire suggests that the oppressors themselves become dehumanised a fact vividly demonstrated by the indiscriminate targeting of these people by police which was captured on video. Humanisation can only come from those who have been oppressed, and it was in our engagements with them that we felt our own humanity welling up and challenging us to respond. Their humanity is, however, often not recognised as they are stereotyped through the use of words such as ‘migrant’ drawing all of the negative concepts that have become associated with such terms. This was exposed to me during my visit when, on one night,a group of about 200 people attempted to gain access to the Euro Tunnel. They were repelled by police and many were injured (we treated their wounds the next day). The BBC News website reported this event, focusing, however, on the delays caused to commuters due to a 'migrant break-out' rather than on the injuries to those people or the reasons underlying their situation. Such issues are of no concern. Why would they be? These are not people like us! They are not valued human beings, only ‘migrants’.
I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to visit the famous Ethiopian Orthodox Church which has been constructed from tarpaulin and wooden laths. I was moved to tears at the creation of such a beautiful and prayerful space in the midst of suffering. Other faiths have done likewise. I spoke with one elder who welcomed me as a brother Christian but also remarked that all were welcome irrespective of faith, ethnicity or gender. ‘We are all humans’ he said. Some days later, I was travelling in Rome with my daughter, and while we entered many churches, none equated with that which I had encountered in ‘The Jungle’.
Before I travelled to Calais, I heard people saying that 3 out of 4 people in these camps are from ISIS-related groups; that they were fundamentalists and that, as a lady in a local pharmacy had told me, they wanted ‘to come over here and kill us all’! I saw no such evidence of this. I met people just like me: engineers; academics; carpenters; nurses; doctors; a father with his son who has intellectual disability and epilepsy; a couple who had lost half of their 13 children to the Mediterranean. Men, women and children seeking refuge from the terror of war and fundamentalism.
Fifty-three people came together for the Irish Convoy to Calais, of which I was part. These too were ordinary people, eager to help others and to enter into dialogue and engagement. Some of us were health workers; others were builders; yet others were litter collectors and warehouse sorters. We were all, however, humans and it was this which allowed us to start to feel the awfulness of our brothers’ and sisters’ pain. It was also this which allowed them to see that not all Europeans are the same. It is no wonder, therefore, that these courageous people told us that when we were there they no longer felt like refugees but rather like humans.
Many Europeans may argue about issues of immigration, asylum seeking, economics, national homelessness, ISIS etc. If we park these for a moment and just consider the situation of the thousands of people living in Calais and in similar camps around Europe. What must it be like? What would it be like for me, if war raged in my country and I had to seek refuge elsewhere? What would it be like if I was consigned to ‘The Jungle’…to a former landfill site? When we do consider this reality, there is no way that anyone can suggest that it isn't wrong. It is wrong, it is dehumanising, it is inhumane, it is disgusting and it is unacceptable! No one should live like this. These, our fellow human beings, who sought solidarity in a union of countries based on human rights, are stuck in a cesspit of human waste and in the wastage of human life. It must stop now!
My experiences in Calais raise serious questions for us in western society and, in particular, for health and socially-oriented professionals whose work is centred on human valuing and inclusion. It is hoped that this article will stimulate discussion on these issues with virtual (Facebook/Twitter) as well as real (discussions/classroom/research) spaces.

Colorectal Cancer Survival Study

The Colorectal Cancer Survival Study is a research project which aims to examine the quality of life and the extent of physical and psychological health problems experienced by individuals diagnosed with bowel, colon or rectal cancer in Ireland within the past five years.  This study is being conducted by Amanda Drury, a PhD student in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin. It is funded by the Health Research Board. As part of the study, Amanda is contacting people from across the Republic of Ireland to complete a survey. There is a lack of information about cancer survivors’ experiences in Ireland, and it is hoped this study can provide information about colorectal cancer survivors’ health and experiences. The information that participants provide in the questionnaire will be used to understand and improve the health of cancer survivors and improve medical and social services for cancer survivors in Ireland.

School of Nursing & Midwifery Students have been highly commended and short-listed for the 2015 Undergraduate Award

We are proud to announce that two of our undergraduate students, Ms Veronica Scalco (General Nursing) and Ms Erin Matthews (Mental Health Nursing) have been highly commended and short-listed for the 2015 Undergraduate Awards.

This year the Awards received 5,117 submissions from students in 255 universities across 39 countries. Submissions in each discipline category are assessed by an international panel of academics. Ms Scalco and Ms Matthews were ranked in the top 10% of all submissions received in Nursing and Midwifery. Their submissions were based on literature reviews produced for their final year research projects. Ms Scalco examined the literature on patients’ perceptions of bedside handover in the acute care setting while Ms Mathews reviewed the literature on perceptions of registered psychiatric nurses towards clients with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder.

We wish both students further success in the Awards and in their future careers.

ProAct Horizon 2020 (PHC 25) successful application led by Dr. John Dinismore

We are pleased to recognise and to congratulate Dr. John Dinsmore PI , and Prof. Mary McCarron and Dr. Anne-Marie Brady who have assisted him in his leadership of the H2020 PHC25 proposal ‘ProACT'. The consortium has been awarded €4.87 million to build a state of the art open web application programming interface (API) ecosystem to integrate a wide variety of new and existing technologies to pull, aggregate and analyse data for the purposes of higher order inference to improve integrated care for multimorbidity (including associated comorbidities). The connected health ecosystem seeks to allow persons living with chronic multimorbidity to remain as long as possible independent and integrated in the community, maximising their quality of life and care. It will connect 4 key care and support models central to understanding and implementing effective, continued and coordinated patient centric care (including self-care). These models are: 1. homecare (including informal care) 2. hospital care 3. community and social care and 4. social support networks

Multiple European countries are involved in this proposal and John assembled industry partners such as IBM, Philips Healthcare, iMinds, Treelogic, Home Instead Senior Care and organisations including The European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) and the Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe (AAATE).

Trinity Nurses Lead Rural Developments in Malawi

A team from Trinity College Dublin’s School of Nursing and Midwifery has just returned from Malawi, having spent five weeks engaging with a community in central Malawi. They were part of the Transformative Praxis Malawi initiative, a participatory action research project which is led by Professor Christopher Stonebanks, Bishop’s University, Quebec, Canada, Dr Fintan Sheerin, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity and Malawian businesswoman, Mrs Jenayla Paradise.

Trinity’s Karen Jeffery, studying Children’s and General Nursing and Katie-Alana Schouten, studying Intellectual Disability Nursing joined with Canadian students from Bishop’s, Mount Alison and McGill universities from the disciplines of primary education and international development and, under the supervision of Dr Sheerin, worked alongside local people on a sustainable community-led response to the myriad of health challenges that are endured by rural Malawians. These include, amongst others, diarrhoeal diseases, malaria, HIV/AIDS, respiratory conditions.

Their work has resulted in the creation of a tripartite plan which will see the setting up of a weekly doctor-led clinic and the provision of a monthly under-5s clinic within the community centre as well as the preparation of a community health volunteer programme. Senior Chief Kaomba of Chilanga, where the work is located, and local health leaders have stated that this initiative will ‘transform local people’s lives’ in the area.

Transformative Praxis Malawi was set up by Professor Stonebanks and has been present in the Chilanga region of Malawi for seven years. It is grounded in the belief that research-led knowledge-transfer activities, undertaken using a participatory model, can achieve significant sustainable changes. This year alone has seen the emergence of a campus site where health and wellness work is now ongoing. 2015-2016 will focus on the provision of a primary school utilising a unique hybrid curriculum which has been approved by the Malawian Ministry of Education. Dr Sheerin is leading the health initiative which will see the development of a purpose-built clinic by 2018.

Transformative Praxis is part of Bishop’s University’s ‘Crossing Borders’ research cluster and is leading to increased research and education links between Bishop’s and Trinity College Dublin. Realisation of the research and knowledge-transfer aspects of the project is made possible through the raising of funds and resources from both within and outside Malawi.

This is the second year in which Trinity students have travelled to Malawi with this year’s team building on the previous work of Susanne Weedle and Eloise Sheerin, both Intellectual Disability student nurses. 

1st International Spirituality in Healthcare Conference held on June 25th, entitled ‘Sowing the Seeds'

The Spirituality Interest Group hosted the 1st International Spirituality in Healthcare conference on June 25th, entitled ‘Sowing the Seeds’. The conference hosted three eminent Keynote Speakers in addition to concurrent sessions. These were:

Dr. Michael O'Sullivan, SJ. Michael serves on the Board of Directors of the European Network for the Academic Study of Christian Spirituality at the University of Zurich and is a Research Fellow in Spirituality at the University of the Free State of South Africa. He is acting Executive Director of the Spirituality Institute for Research and Education and Director of the MA in Applied Christian Spirituality and cluster leader of PhD and MA by research students in spirituality at All Hallows College, Dublin City University.

Prof. Wilfred McSherry. Wilf was appointed Professor in Dignity of Care for Older People in August 2008 this is a shared appointment between Faculty of Health Sciences, Staffordshire University and the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (United Kingdom). Wilf is also Part-time Professor at Haraldsplass Deaconess University College, Bergen, Norway.

Dr Jenny Hall, Senior Midwifery Lecturer, School of Health and Social Care, Bournemouth University The conference was attended by delegates from Brazil, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Scotland, South Africa, The Netherlands and the USA. This inaugural conference was a great success and the 2nd International Conference will be hosted jointly by the School of Nursing and Midwifery and the Spirituality Interest Group on Thursday 23rd June 2016.

New Erasmus Lead in School of Nursing and Midwifery

The School of Nursing and Midwifery are delighted to announce that Padraig Dunne has taken on the new role of leading the Erasmus initiative for the school.  Padraig has extensive experience working as a member of the international strategic team within the school over the past 4 years and was instrumental in the development of Erasmus exchanges for nursing students since this time.  More recently Padraig was involved in scoping Malaysian nursing education.  Padraig admitted to being very excited about this new role and looks forward to further developing existing Erasmus partnerships and creating new ones. "The students get so much from this experience, which they carry with them throughout their nursing careers"

Foundation Scholarship Award

The School of Nursing and Midwifery would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the four Senior Freshman Nursing students who were recently awarded the Foundation Scholarship Award.

This highly prestigious award has a long standing history in Trinity College and requires students to display a breadth of knowledge beyond their standard coursework and this year's Scholars join a long list of Nursing & Midwifery students who have enjoyed such a distinction.

The names of the successful Scholars are:
Sabina Okoye (General Nursing)
Kiera Pienaar (General Nursing)
Lauren Daly (General Nursing)
Victoria Fox (Mental Health Nursing)

Congratulations to all students to took part.

Innovative Mental Health Programme to be Rolled out Nationally 84% of participants in the Eolas information programme for people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar reported improved well-being following their involvement.

An innovative and unique information programme to support people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and their families is to be delivered nationally from 2015, funded by the HSE and integrated into mental health service provision in many HSE areas. News of the expanded rollout of the EOLAS information programme was delivered at an event in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin.

The significant successes to date of the innovative project were presented to Kathleen Lynch TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Older People, Equality and Mental Health following an evaluation completed by academics from Trinity’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and School of Psychology.

EOLAS offers two eight week peer and clinician led mental health information programmes on information, learning and recovery from the experience of mental health difficulties. One programme is for people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and a second is designed for their family members and significant others.

According to the Eolas evaluation, 84% of participants with a mental health diagnosis reported improved wellbeing with significant impact on other psychosocial outcomes. Participants’ knowledge about their mental health, their confidence in dealing with their mental distress, their hope and attitudes towards their own recovery and their ability to advocate on their own behalf were all improved following completion of the EOLAS programme.

For family members, the project was equally successful with a reported increase in knowledge about their family member’s mental distress, increased hope for the future, and increased confidence in supporting their family member and accessing mental health  services. Both groups reported high levels of satisfaction with and endorsement of the programme, with 98% stating they would recommend it to others.

A family member who took part in the programme described the impact it had on them saying: “EOLAS was a God-send because I was so much in the dark… I was like a zombie walking the streets. No direction to go, no plan, no understanding. After attending that course, I had a plan. I had an understanding.”

Professor Agnes Higgins, Professor in Mental Health at the School of Nursing & Midwifery, Trinity and Lead investigator on the evaluation of the Eolas Project said: “The success of EOLAS is largely influenced by the fact that the programme has been co-designed and co-delivered by mental health service users - people with a diagnosis - and families in combination with clinical practitioners. This is in contrast to traditional mental health information programmes in Ireland and internationally which have been practitioner led. In addition to enhancing participants’ knowledge, confidence and advocacy skills, the programme provided a platform for peers, clinicians and participants to engage with one another as equals and serves to redress some of the traditional power imbalance and information deficits within mental health services”.

Dr Pat Gibbons, Consultant Psychiatrist in Kildare West Wicklow Mental Health Services and chairperson of the Eolas Project steering committee said: “EOLAS is a unique programme in the way in which it forms a bridge between the traditional clinical model of understanding mental health, (based on scientific research and knowledge) and the Recovery model, which focuses to a much greater extent on learning from the lived experience of people with mental health difficulties and of the people close to them. EOLAS succeeds in harnessing the strength and energies of both approaches, and provides a structure within which there can be open communication and collaboration between service users, families and clinicians”

Quotes from participants in the Eolas Programme, including both people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and family members:

“My experience was positive, positive, positive, positive...I feel privileged to have been on it, I honestly do. It was so helpful.”

“It was great to be able to share and then to learn from other people…everybody’s experience is different…what was interesting is our experience of our diagnosis was almost identical, but the way in which we ended up in hospital was very are basically learning from each other…”

“I don’t know that anyone can understand fully what it’s like unless you’ve been there …that’s why I found it really important that a service user [facilitator] was there because you could identify with her a bit more…You’ve seen this person in front of you who looked normal…and looked well…this does make you feel that it is achievable…You can go back to a bad place…you can get yourself out of it again.”

About Eolas:

Eolas was developed and delivered in collaboration with users of the mental health services, their families, Kildare Youth Service, Voluntary Mental Health Support Agencies, SHINE, Irish Advocacy Network and Trinity College. The project was originally funded through Genio and is now fully funded by the HSE.

A mixed evaluation of the project was carried out with over 100 Eolas participants. People with a mental health diagnosis and their family members took part in surveys and interviews.

The pilot programme originally ran in Kildare, West Wicklow and some Dublin Mental Health Services but will be now rolled out nationally. More details on Eolas are available at

Children’s views should shape how research is conducted, says ethics body

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics launched a new report, Children and clinical research: ethical issues on 14th May in London, UK. The report was produced by an expert Working Party that included Professor Imelda Coyne. Members of the Working Party were appointed for their personal knowledge and expertise, and do not necessarily represent the views of their organisations. The report is the result of a two-year inquiry, which has heard from over 500 professionals, parents, children and young people, in the UK and internationally.

“It will always be easier to say ‘no’ to research with children on the grounds that it’s too difficult, but we should challenge the idea that it is acceptable to continue to offer healthcare to children without seeking to improve the evidence base for many of the treatments provided,” says Professor Bobbie Farsides, Chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics Working Party and Professor of Bioethics at Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics examines ethical issues raised by new developments in biology and medicine. Established by the Nuffield Foundation in 1991, the Council is an independent body, funded jointly by the Foundation, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust. The Council has achieved an international reputation for addressing public concerns, and providing independent advice to assist policy makers and stimulate debate in bioethics.

'Kids' Classics - Music in Healthcare, Education and Community Settings’ presented by Gráinne Hope and Dr Jane Bentley

Gráinne Hope and Dr Jane Bentley delivered a very interesting talk to some of the participants in the School of Nursing and Midwifery Alumni Committee Gradlink Programme.  The talk was an overview of  ‘Music in Healthcare, Education and Community settings and gave the audience a great insight into the benefits of music in healthcare settings. The audience enjoyed live music performances by Gráinne and Jane on the night and even had the opportunity to perform music themselves.

Creator and Director of Kids' Classics, Gráinne Hope,completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree and Bachelor of Music Performance in NUI Maynooth and the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama before receiving a full scholarship to further her studies at Duquesne University in AmericaKids' Classics is an organisation that brings professional music off the concert stage and into the very hearts of communities, to provide access to music performances and music–making opportunities to everyone, regardless of their social, economic or medical circumstances. Kids' Classics first piloted music in healthcare workshops in the schoolrooms of Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin, Children's University Hospital Temple St and the National Children's Hospital Tallaght in partnership and funded by the National Concert Hall in 2009. More information available at

Dr. Jane Bentley is a music in healthcare practitioner, consultant, and trainer, based in Glasgow, Scotland. She completed her PhD at the University ofStrathclyde in 2011, focusing on musical interaction, and making music accessible to everyone – including people who might define themselves as ‘non-musicians’! She has been taking this work into healthcare settings for over 12 years, and has worked extensively in mental health settings ranging from forensic to community, and older adult services. She is currently employed part-time by the National Health Service in Scotland, as a musician in Older Adult mental health services.

SIG Public lecture in the  2014-2015 series

The TCD School of Nursing and Midwifery’s Spirituality Interest Group (SIG) and Civic Engagement Committee held the third  SIG Public lecture in the  2014-2015 series:

"What are the 'spiritual' needs of patients who are not religious?"

Presented by:  Nicolas Johnson (photographed with Prof. Fiona Timmins), Board member and Director of Chaplaincy Services of the Humanist Association of Ireland. The Humanist Chaplaincy offers support services to its members and others who do not subscribe to a religion. Before coming to Ireland Nic was the founding member and first president of the Board of Directors of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University. The Chaplaincy at Harvard - with the first Humanist Chaplain working in higher education in the United States - was established to assure that non-religious students there had the same access to support, counseling and programs as available to religious students.

Dr. Fintan Sheerin has been elected as President of ACENDIO

Dr. Fintan Sheerin has been elected as President of the European nursing informatics association, ACENDIO. He is the first Irish president of the association which represents interest in standardised nursing language, nursing diagnoses, informatics and eHealth across the broad European region. His election took place during the 10th Biennial Conference of ACENDIO in Bern, Switzerland, where 220 nurses gathered from 26 countries worldwide. He succeeds Prof. Walter Sermeus of Belgium, the European leader of the RN4CAST project.

Article published in this month’s Learning Disability Practice

Two of our JS intellectual disability nursing students, Eloise Sheerin and Suzanne Weedle, have had an article published in this month’s Learning Disability Practice. The piece recounts their work in Malawi in 2014 as part of Transformative Praxis: Malawi, where they engaged with teachers, families and people with intellectual disabilities in a rural part of the country. They recently presented their work online at a Canadian research conference in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

Landmark New Study on Maternal Health Launched. MAMMI study to make mothers’ invisible health problems visible.

A first of its kind study to research and track the health and health problems of first time mothers in Ireland has been launched today by researchers from the School of Nursing and Midwifery in Trinity College Dublin.

The MAMMI study (Maternal health And Maternal Morbidity in Ireland) is a longitudinal study funded by the Health Research Board (HRB) which will follow more than 2600 women through their pregnancy and for one year after the birth of their first baby, gathering information and experiences on a range of important health issues including urinary incontinence; mental health issues such as anxiety, stress and depression; pelvic girdle pain; sexual health; domestic violence; c-sections; and diet and activity during pregnancy. The study group represents almost 10% of all first-time mothers giving birth in Ireland in a given year.

The researchers say that the study is being done because a lack of information on the health of women after a baby’s birth prevents healthcare professionals from understanding what causes common problems for women in Ireland such as pain, urinary and bowel problems, changes affecting sexual health and emotional health and difficulties in intimate partner relationships. 

Speaking about the importance of this study, MAMMI’s Principal Investigator and Chair of Nursing and Midwifery in Trinity, Professor Cecily Begley said: “Many women experience motherhood in excellent physical health, while others experience health problems, which may occur during pregnancy or result from an event that happens during or after the baby’s birth. The MAMMI study will look at a wide range of problems that can have a huge impact on a mother’s quality of life. Because of a lack of information on the prevalence, causes and interconnections between these issues for women in Ireland, women’s health problems remain invisible, not talked about and very often untreated. This is despite interventions being available, which could prevent some of the problems occurring in the first place.”

Speaking about the information gaps that currently exist in this area Professor Begley continued: “Maternity care and information gathering is focused on the pregnancy and birth period. Women have a final check-up 6 weeks after the birth, usually with their GP, when it is ‘assumed’ that her body has returned to ‘normal’.  This is the case for a lot of women who stay healthy and well but is not the case for a considerable proportion of women. This information was, and is not collected in our maternity services.”  

“There is also no connection between the woman’s record held in the maternity hospital and any records kept on her if she has to attend a general hospital with a health problem resulting from pregnancy or childbirth. This means that clinicians in the maternity services never receive feedback on how women who have been in their care for pregnancy and childbirth return to normal health and well-being. We hope that this study will bridge that gap and not only make these issues visible, but also, and crucially, provide the information that will help guide, inform and improve practice and care for mothers in the future.”

According to Dr Graham Love, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board: “The MAMMI study shows how health research is providing practical solutions to real patient issues at the time when it matters most. It is important that these findings are widely disseminated so that as many women as possible can benefit from this research.”

Urinary Incontinence or ‘Leaking Urine’

The MAMMI study has today released the first set of early findings on urinary incontinence (leaking urine) in women, before, during and after the birth of their first child. This early research looked at the prevalence and mitigating factors in urinary incontinence (UI) in 860 women, before, during and after pregnancy.  

Key findings:


  • 1 in 3 women leak urine occasionally before becoming pregnant and 1 in 12 leak urine once a month or more frequently.
  • In early pregnancy, more than 1 in 3 women leak urine during pregnancy and almost one in 5 leak urine once a month or more frequently.
  • Three months after the birth, 1 in 2 women leaked some amount of urine and even 6 months after the birth, 1 in 5 women still leak urine once a month or more frequently.

Risk Factors:


  • Women with raised odds of leaking urine were those with a high BMI and those who experienced bed wetting as a child. Women who were obese or very obese had 4 times the chance of leaking urine before pregnancy compared with women whose BMI was in the normal range.

During Pregnancy

  • Women aged 35 years and more before pregnancy had 3 times the odds of experiencing new onset urinary leakage in pregnancy when compared with women aged 25-29 years of age.
  • Women who were overweight before pregnancy had twice the odds of experiencing new onset urinary leakage in pregnancy.
  • Women who leaked urine occasionally, less than once a month, before pregnancy had more than twice the odds of leaking urine during pregnancy.


  • Women who experienced urinary leakage in pregnancy had 3 times the odds of having it at 3 and 6 months after the birth when compared with women with no leakage or leakage less than once a month during pregnancy.

Speaking about the feedback from women in the study who have experienced urinary leaking, Assistant Professor in Midwifery in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity, Dr Deirdre Daly said: “The key message for women is that leaking urine is common, but it is not normal and can be treated. Far too many women put up with urinary leakage during and after pregnancy because they think it is ‘normal’ or ‘to be expected’. Because of this the majority of the women in the MAMMI study had not really talked to anyone about leaking urine.”

“The reality is that leaking urine can make some women miserable; while it affects them physically, it can also affect them emotionally and socially and affect the way women interact with their partner. Leaking urine can even make some women stop exercising or be cautious about socialising because they are afraid of leaking and of it being noticed by others. Unfortunately, and partly because we have no information on leaking urine in pregnant women or new mothers in Ireland, many women who leak urine think they are alone; this can make women feel isolated, embarrassed and reluctant to talk about it or to seek help.”

Dr Daly continued: “The reality is that routine antenatal care offers opportunities for promoting continence in all women but particularly in those with identifiable risk factors. If enquiry about UI and advice on effective preventative and curative treatments became routine some of these women could become or stay continent which would have huge benefits for their quality of life.”

Urinary incontinence means leaking urine, regardless of the amount, when you don’t mean to. It can be classified in certain ways relating to when it happens. For example, leaking urine when you cough, laugh, sneeze or take exercise, is called ‘stress urinary incontinence’, and leaking urine when you have to rush to or wait for the toilet is called ‘urge’ incontinence, because you have an urge to go when it happens. Leaking urine when you exercise, and with a sense of urgency, is called ‘mixed’ incontinence.

Some women leak urine when they exercise, and this can be embarrassing and be enough to stop women from exercising. Not taking exercise is likely to contribute to gaining weight, which in turn can raise the odds of leaking urine.

As part of the UI strand of the MAMMI study, a number of videos were produced on pelvic floor exercises and urinary incontinence and are available here:

The MAMMI study is funded by the Health Research Board. Certain strands also received funding from Friends of the Coombe and Friends of the Rotunda.

If any women are concerned about UI or any of the issues being covered by the MAMMI study they should contact their healthcare provider for advice and support.

More information on the MAMMI study is available from

Minister for Health delivers public lecture as part of School’s Civic Engagement Strategy

On Thursday 26 February 2015 the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar TD participated in the School’s ‘Tell Me About’ public lecture series. He spoke about both his role as Minister and his vision for the future of health services in Ireland. After the lecture, the Minister took a number of questions from the floor. A podcast of the lecture will be available shortly on the School’s YouTube page.

The 'Tell Me About' public lecture series 2014-15 comprises of seven lectures and is presented as part of the School's Civic Engagement Strategy.

International Winter School award ceremony for US nursing students at Trinity College’s School of Nursing and Midwifery

Award ceremony held on Friday 16th January 2015 to celebrate completion of a two-week intensive International Winter School in the School of Nursing and Midwifery for nursing students from California State University, Channel Islands and University of Scranton, Pennsylvania USA.
The School of Nursing and Midwifery held its International Winter School  5th -16th January 2015. Nursing students along with Faculty members travelled to Trinity College from the University of Scranton and California State University, Channel Islands to learn about nursing, midwifery and global healthcare issues. The Vice-President for Global Relations, Professor Juliette Hussey presented the certificates and closed the International Winter School by highlighting the importance of building global relationships and having a forum for the international exchange for the future of nursing and midwifery.
The International Winter School programme  provides participants with opportunities to explore the world of Irish nursing/ midwifery and compare nursing/midwifery in the US with Ireland ; learn about different  healthcare structures and contemporary health problems in Ireland; meet Trinity College nursing students in a round table exchange of student experiences; meet leading researchers and discover what innovative practices are being developed; experience how culture, lifestyle and quality of life effect health in Ireland; as well as cultural visits to the historic Book of Kells, and contemporary exhibition on ‘Blood’ in the Science Gallery, Trinity College. The winter school includes visits to a variety of clinical areas in the Coombe, St James’s and St Patrick’s hospitals where our global participants can compare nursing and midwifery practice in Ireland with their home country. The programme is designed to offer international nursing students a great opportunity to combine learning about nursing in Ireland with an active educational programme which provides experience of clinical practice, lifestyle and culture in Dublin.

Among the comments, one student wrote: “Wonderful program, recommend to all international students. This two weeks changed my life forever in the sense of becoming more broad minded to other culture’s nursing practice. Amazing!”

Other student comments:
“Having opportunity to study the Irish health care system in Ireland has been a huge blessing. I believe I have grown as a nursing student and witnessed many characteristics that I would like to emulate in my career, namely humility and compassion. This experience has been invaluable and I honestly believe it will make me a better, more rounded nurse.”
“This program was wonderful. I feel that I have learned so much about Ireland’s health care system along with how Ireland trains their nurses. The debate was a powerful learning tool with enabled us students to use our minds to understand not only Ireland’s health care but the US’s health care as well. The staff are very welcoming and I really enjoyed my time here as well as gaining a ton of knowledge. Thank you!”
“The overall program was absolutely fantastic. It was my first time out of the country and experiencing a new healthcare system. I feel I have learned astronomical amounts that I can take home and apply to my own nursing practice.”

The International Winter School is led by Professor Naomi Elliott, Freda Neill, Emma Duffy and along with the School of Nursing and Midwifery welcomes visiting students undertaking the programme as part of building global relationships in the areas of research and education.

New report launched - RDWIFI Research Study

A team from the School of Nursing and Midwifery have just completed the first part of a project focussed on families of children with rare diseases funded by the Saoirse Foundation.

The initial part of the project which was aimed at examining the information needs of parents of children with rare diseases in Ireland was completed in December 2014. This ground breaking study examined the needs of parents of children with rare diseases and their use of web information. The study was designed to underpin the development of a specific website for families of children with rare diseases which is an important innovation. This study is fundamentally aligned with the recently published National Rare Disease Plan for Ireland 2014-2018 recommendations.

Dr Honor Nicholl (PI on the project) is seen in the photograph with the research team members Dr Catherine Tracey, Dr Aileen Lynch, Ms Thelma Begley and Ms Carole King handing a copy of the project report to Mr Tony Heffernan, CEO of the Saoirse Foundation.

Graduation of 10 psychiatric nurses from St Patrick's Mental Health Services

Wednesday November 12th 2014 marked the graduation of 10 psychiatric nurses from St Patrick's Mental Health Services. Speaking at the ceremony Ms Evelyn McCarthy, Director of Nursing acknowledged the long established partnership St Patricks have with Trinity College Dublin and the ever-evolving role Mental Health Nurses play in meeting the changing ways mental healthcare is delivered. The CEO of St Patricks Mental Health Services, Mr Paul Gilligan, complimented the graduates on achieving their qualifications and at the ceremony graduates were presented with a badge that represents St Patrick's Mental Health Services philosophy: Innovative, Open, Energetic, Involving, Confident, Challenging and Expert. It was a wonderful ceremony for the graduates and their families.

The Grand Opening of Hospital 5 Unit 2's (St. James's Hospital, Dublin)

The Grand Opening of Hospital 5 Unit 2's (St. James's Hospital, Dublin) "Patient and Family Room" took place on Thursday 11th September 2014 at the Hospital. This room, which serves to provide rest and recreational space to both patients of the unit and their visitors is a welcome addition to the unit which had been previously under-resourced in this particular domain. This initiative arose as a result of a joint project between the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin (TCD), and Staff at St. James's Hospital Dublin.

The joint TCD/St. James's Hospital initiative, which was the brainchild of Ms. Lorraine Dolan, Clinical Nurse Manager (CNM) 2 at the hospital, and supported and developed by her colleague Maria (Lawlor) Kane (CNM 3) was later fostered  by Prof. Fiona Timmins, Associate Professor and Dr. Orla Dempse, Quantitative Healthcare Lead at TCD and under the Auspices of the Centre for Practice & Healthcare Innovation, TCD, the overarching project entitled "An evaluation of recreational ward facilities for long stay respiratory patients" secured funding from the Royal City Of Dublin Hospital Trust to realise the project.

The Actors from 'Scenes from our Lives' and the IDS-TILDA team visit the President at Aras an Uachtarain.

Following the launch in July of the accessible website ( and DVD 'Scenes from Our Lives' members of the Intellectual Disability Supplement to The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (IDS-TILDA) team and the actors who participated in this innovative project were invited to celebrate their success with the President, President Michael D. Higgins on Wednesday last, November 14th 2012. Professor McCarron (PI) had the honour to present the President with the accessible material produced to make this study on ageing accessible to all people most especially those with an intellectual disability.

The President congratulated everyone for their achievement and noted his delight at the synergistic use of various media to convey an otherwise challenging academic message to all citizens. He especially liked the use of the arts and drama, commenting on how acting and advocacy resonates for him and noting how this project was the essence of how he as a President seeks an inclusive citizenship where everyone is treated with respect. As he had promised in his inaugural speech he was delighted to support initiatives for inclusion giving projects like this recognition on a national stage. Ms. Margaret Gahan, one of the patrons of IDS-TILDA, was delighted to present the President with a handcrafted pottery piece from Stewarts Care Centre.

It was a very exciting day for all the actors and they will talk about it for along time to come. They later enjoyed tea with the President and his staff as well as a splendid tour of the house. Professor McCarron noted that it was indeed an honour for all the actors to be sharing an afternoon with the President and have the IDS-TILDA dissemination project recognised in such a manner.

'Life as a Child and Young person in Ireland: Report of a National Consultation'

Professor Imelda Coyne, Dr Orla Dempsey and Professor Catherine Comiskey were commissioned to conduct a national consultation with children and young people in Ireland for the Department of Children & Youth Affairs (DCYA). The consultation was conducted in April 2011 and was completed by 66,705 children and young people across Ireland.

The report of the consultation 'Life as a Child and Young person in Ireland: Report of a National Consultation' was launched by Minister Frances Fitzgerald (Minister for Children & Youth Affairs) on Wednesday 7th November in Scoil Chaitriona, Lower Baggott Street, Dublin 2.

Prof. Fiona Timmins appointed as one of three new Editors for the Journal of Nursing Management

Prof. Fiona Timmins, Associate Professor, School of Nursing and Midwifery has been appointed as one of three new Editors for the Journal of Nursing Management. The Journal of Nursing Management is an international peer reviewed journal which aims to advance the discipline of nursing management and leadership. The Journal encourages scholarly debate and critical analysis resulting in a rich source of evidence which underpins and illuminates the practice of management, innovation and leadership in nursing and health care. It publishes current issues and developments in practice in the form of research papers, in-depth commentaries and analyses. It's impact factor is 1.14. The Editor in Chief is Professor John Daly, Dean, Faculty of Health Head, WHO Collaborating Centre for Nursing, Midwifery & Health Development, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.

Provost Teaching Award

Congratulations to Dr Louise Gallagher who has been awarded the Provosts Teaching award for excellence in teaching. This is just excellent news and wonderful for the school and the midwifery team.

School of Nursing & Midwifery Students Visit Malawi

Two intellectual disability nursing students, Suzanna Weedle and Eloise Sheerin along with Lecturer in Intellectual Disability, Dr. Fintan Sheerin, visited the Chilanga region of Malawi for 4 weeks during June 2014. They were part of the Canadian-led participatory action research project, Praxis Malawi of which Dr. Sheerin is Health Coordinator. The students worked closely with local people to encourage developments in supports for people with an intellectual disability there. As part of this endeavour, they initiated collaboration between teachers in a school for children with visual impairment a special education teachers in a resource room for children with learning difficulties. They also met with local people with disabilities and their parents to explore their experiences. Many of these parents are struggling to meet the needs of their families and are unable to address the specific needs of family members with a disability. They are also challenged by the stigma that often is experienced in such situations. Eloise and Suzanna’s work has set in place a structure which we hope will be the basis for a local support group.

Enable Ireland Community Design Challenge

Along with Prof. Fiona Timmins, Junior Sophister Students were invited to take part in the 2014 Enable Ireland Community Design Challenge.

This is a user centred design based competition, hosted jointly by Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and Enable Ireland. It invites design engineering students from DIT, users and for the first time, nursing students, to meet together and come up with design ideas for improving quality of life and well being of the users.

Three students attended the competition which was held over 2 days, with consultation work in between. The nursing students were a great asset to the competition and one of them (Ms. Eimear O' Brien) was on the winning team.

This was truly inquiry based learning as expert users presented their 'frustrations' ( with say reading medicine bottles if they are diabetic or visually impaired) and along with the team they came up with a prototype solution.

New book on Mental Health in Ireland launched

A new book on Mental Health in Ireland was recently launched at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin. The event was attended by mental health service users, practitioners, academics, researchers, friends and Minister of State for Disability, Equality and Mental Health, Kathleen Lynch T.D. The book was launched by Eddie Molloy, Chairman of Mental Health Reform, and by contributor and expert by experience Paddy McGowan.

Mental Health in Ireland: Policy, Practice & Law is the first extensive overview of emerging issues in the field of mental and emotional distress in Ireland covering the period from the 1940s to the present day. With contributions from experts in the area, there is an emphasis on current trends in mental health law and policy, which have implications for mental health service delivery in Ireland in the future.

The book has been edited by Agnes Higgins, Professor in Mental Health and Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity and Dr Shari McDaid, Director of Mental Health Reform. Professor Higgins has worked in mental health practice and education for over 30 years and Dr McDaid and has worked in social policy in Ireland for over 10 years, specialising in mental health.

Researchers are contacting LGBTI people across the Republic of Ireland to complete a survey

LGBTIreland is a research project about the mental health and wellbeing of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) people in Ireland. The study is being conducted by a research team led by Professor Agnes Higgins from Trinity College Dublin School of Nursing & Midwifery. It is commissioned by the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) and BeLonG To and funded by the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP).

As part of the study, the researchers are contacting LGBTI people across the Republic of Ireland to complete a survey. It is hoped to gather as much information as possible as what is learned from the survey should inform the development of Irish policy and, hopefully, impact positively on the lives of LGBTI people in Ireland. To complete the survey, a person must be over 14 years of age, living in the Republic of Ireland, and identify as LGBTI.

'' Support for Young People with Long-term Conditions

We’re delighted to let you know that our project '' Support for Young People with Long-term Conditions' has won the Category B in the 2014 Crystal Clear MSD Health Literacy Awards. The research team were: Prof. Imelda Coyne, Peter Thompson, Geraldine Prizeman, Dr Aisling Sheehan, Aileen Cassells. Peter Thompson from Stone Maidan Productions was the web designer.

This year's awards received over 131 entries and the judges were very impressed with both the volume and the exceptionally high standard of entries. A list of the shortlisted entries is posted on We attended the Crystal Clear Awards presentation lunch on Thursday, 15th May in the Hilton Hotel, Charlemont Place, Dublin 2. At this event the winner from each of the five categories was announced, and presented with a specially commissioned trophy.

In addition, all shortlisted entries will be awarded an official Certificate of Excellence. The award winners and finalists were announced to the national media following the awards ceremony and there is a feature in the health supplement of the Irish Times tomorrow (Tuesday).

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