As their four weeks in Cape Verde draw to a close, our six nurses spoke with us again to discuss how they feel at the end of the experience.
Is there one person in particular from your experience that stands out for you?
Jasmin – One of the nurses called Melaina welcomed us all so well, she said we were family. She had a really caring attitude. She was one of the people we met that was just as keen to learn English as well as teach us Portuguese and even Creole. Sandra was amazing to us too; we loved working with both of them.
Julie – We mainly spent time with the nurses, but Dr Viviane and Dr Rosa were lovely too. Different specialists come over every three months so this time it was gynecological and general, and they came over last week. They were Spanish surgeons and anesthetists and were really good with us – maybe because they were there to learn too, as well as performing the operations. We got to sit in on some of the operations they performed which were really interesting.
Kieren and Lauren – We saw a birth and we got to help out which was incredible. It was hard not to get involved because there isn’t really the same level of care here in terms of attention to the patient – so we were rubbing her back, holding her hand and getting her water. She ended up giving birth with no pain relief and the baby was a little girl.
Have your nursing techniques changed?
Jasmin – Since being here, we’ve realised how important it is to communicate to patients. There’s a real ‘get on with it’ approach here, it’s much more laidback and we’ve definitely seen the difference. Unfortunately, patients don’t get as much guidance or explanation of every detail as we would normally see in the UK. It’s not as though we wouldn’t have done this with our patients before but it’s certainly been bought to our attention just how important it is.
What happens when you get back to the University of Nottingham?
Alys – We’ll produce a webfolio on our experience that goes towards our marks, plus we’re going to give a group presentation about what we’ve learnt. We had to come up with a group objective as well as three individual objectives each.
Jasmin – The objectives included exploring the local policies and procedures about infection control and comparing them to UK standards, exploring the professional image of nurses in Cape Verde and understanding the assessment process in a fast-changing environment.
How did it all work logistically?
Alys – There’s three main departments in the hospital – general medicine (which includes a children’s section), maternity and emergency. We were put into pairs and then put on rotation between each of the departments for the first three weeks, the final week we spent in theatre. They had two theatre rooms going at one time so we were separated out to watch the various operations and we were also checking on post-op patients.
Kim – Maternity was my favourite department, we really wanted a birth and we finally got one at the very end. It the first one I’ve ever seen so it was a big deal for me. We were so hoping to see a birth and we’d get there in the morning and check first thing but we’d always find that we’d missed the births in the night. It could be hard to get a proper bond with a patient because of the language barrier but when we were helping the woman who went into labour, we overcame it with hand gestures and facial expressions. She really thanked us at the end of it all because nobody else gets that kind of treatment, which was such a lovely moment.
How would you sum up the experience?
Lauren – Amazing. There are no real words to explain how amazing it has been. We’re so sad to go home. The staff have all been lovely, we want to go back every year and volunteer. We’ve left our scrubs and our hospital shoes at the hospital because they have such a short supply, which they were really happy about. We were sort of expecting it to be a lot worse than it is but they use a lot of the same techniques as we do at home and it’s so clean and sterile.
Kieren – There could be little improvements here and there though. There isn’t enough communication with the patients – simple things we take for granted like telling them what we’re doing and putting them at ease before a procedure. They also don’t have any policies or procedures so there’s nothing they really have to abide by. The worst thing is there have no sharp bins so they just have to use plastic bottles.
Julie – That said, they work very hard against the odds. A lot of the really basic equipment is missing so they’re using their initiative to make things work for them – the plastic bottle sharp bins are a good example. They could work so much better if they had these basics to work with.
What would you like to do when you get home to help?
Julie – We want to raise money and donate things like blankets to the Resort Group to send on to the hospital. It’s important to us all that we help the hospital and the Foundation in the future – through both money and awareness. First of all, we want to get some equipment sent out there (initially, we want to collect blankets, baby clothes, things like that) but later we would love to get together and do something for the Foundation. We’ll also go back and report to the University on how we can help.
What are your thoughts on Cape Verde as a holiday destination?
Kieren – We went on an excursion this morning – it was a bike and hike up the Serra Negra mountain. It’s very hard work and bumpy but the views are beautiful so it’s totally worth it– the salt lakes in particular. Some of us also went horse riding and quad biking – it’s all been really good.
What are thoughts on MELIÃ Dunas Beach Resort & Spa?
All – Gabi Beach Bar and the White Party on Friday were both the best. Rancho is definitely our favourite restaurant – the chicken wings are gorgeous! The Lion King and the Cape Verdean dance show are so much fun that we actually ended up getting on stage and joining them.
Loads of staff have been amazing to us, we couldn’t name them all right now but everyone we’ve met. The whole of the animation team, we love – especially Vanessa and Natsiana, as well as Edison, who sits behind reception and drives the buggy around the Resort. Also, Lino, who works in the bar, has been lovely.
What about Dr Monica?
All – We’re going to go and see her today to speak to her before we go. We saw her every Friday we were here but we’d also just bump into her around the hotel and she was so happy to see us. Dr Monica was always checking to see if we were alright. Two of us have had medical issues and she helped us out, then Lauren and Alys had a medical emergency with a guest so they called Dr Monica afterwards who was so nice – everyone knows we’re nurses so we were asked to help someone who fainted which we were more than happy to do.
What’s the first thing you want to do when you get home?
All – First thing is a Nandos and a McDonalds, a Sunday Roast and pizza. And we can’t wait to see family and friends, of course.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
All – A massive thank you to Rob Jarrett, CEO of The Resort Group and the President of the Cape Verde Foundation and Dr Monica of Medical Services SA. Every part of the team, really. It’s all been so lovely and welcoming. We would love to come back and do it again.