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‘‘Training Nurses for the Sick Poor,’’ 1876 Source: ‘‘Training Nurses for the Sick Poor,’’ The Times 14 April 1876 Sir: The beginning has been made, the first crusade has been fought and won, to bring a truly ‘‘national’’ undertaking—real nursing, trained nursing—to the bedsides of cases wanting real nursing among the London sick poor, in the only way in which real nurses can be so brought to the sick poor, and this by providing a real home within reach of their work for the nurses to live in, a home which gives what real family homes are supposed to give: materially, a bedroom for each, dining and sitting rooms in common, all meals prepared and eaten in the home; morally, direction, support, sympathy in a common work, further training and instruction in it, proper rest and recreation and a head of the home who is also and pre-eminently trained and skilled head of the nursing, in short, a home where any good mother, of whatever class, would be willing to let her daughter, however attractive or highly educated, live. But all this costs money. Allow an old nurse to say her word on what a district nurse is to be. This system, which twenty years ago was a paradox, twenty years hence will be a commonplace. If a nurse has to ‘‘find herself,’’ to cook for herself when she comes home ‘‘dog-tired’’ from her patients, to do everything for herself, she cannot do real nursing, for nursing requires the most undivided attention of anything I know, and all the health and strength both of mind and body. If, then, she has to provide for herself, she can only be half a nurse, and one of two things happens. Either she is of the level of her patients or she sinks to the level of her patients and actually makes apologies for their dirt and disorderliness, instead of remedying these, and instead of their making apologies to her and being anxious for these to be remedied. Nay, as the old hospital nurse did thirty years ago, she may even come to prey upon what is provided for her patients. There is a third alternative : that she breaks her heart. But the thing which always does happen is that no woman really fit for the work will do it, or ought to do it. To have a person fit to live in a home, and who would have any other?—and to create homes for the poor, for it is nothing less—you must have a home fit for her to live in. If you give nurses a bad home, or no home at all, you will have only nurses who will live in a bad home, or no home at all. They forget what a home is. How, then, can they reform and recreate, as it were, the homes of the sick poor? 750 / Florence Nightingale: Extending Nursing The very thing that we find in these poor sick is that they lose the feeling of what it is to be clean. The district nurse has to show them their room clean for once, in other words to do it herself: to sweep and dust away, to empty and wash out all the appalling dirt and foulness , to air and disinfect, rub the windows, sweep the fireplace, carry out and shake the bits of old sacking and carpet, and lay them down again, fetch fresh water and fill the kettle, wash the patient and the children and make the bed. Every home she has thus cleaned has always been kept so. This is her glory. She found it a pigsty, she left it a tidy, airy room. In fact, these nurses are so far above their patients that the poor are ‘‘ashamed that we should see their homes dirty again.’’ One woman burst into tears as she said: It looks like it did before I was taken ill and all my troubles came upon me; indeed I used to be clean and tidy—ask the neighbours if I wasn’t. But, what with sickness and trouble, I let one thing after another get behind and then it was too much for me altogether. Why I haven’t been able to make my bed properly since I came out of hospital, for I did not seem to have heart or strength to do anything , but I will never let it get into such a state again. And she kept...


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