UK-based Indian nurses are helping to support their native country colleagues during the devastating wave of Covid-19, by “fixing” nurses on video calls and sending out what is most needed equipment and food.
The British Indian Nurses Association (BINA), which was officially launched last year to support nurses migrating to the NHS from India to thrive, has expanded outreach to help those facing the Covid-19 crisis in India .
Suresh Packiam, general secretary of BINA and a mental health nurse by background, described the Covid-19 outbreak in India as “very difficult” and told how every day he would wake up to a message in his phone to say that one of his friends or family members has died.
India has been subjected to a new highly contagious variant of the virus, now named Delta, and is struggling to meet Covid-19 patient demands.
The group works with charities to send equipment to hospitals, as well as food for those unable to work during the crisis.
But in a conversation with Watch Hours, Mr. Packiam said India’s lack of expertise was “excessive” that even if BINA sent equipment, such as non-invasive ventilators and oxygen concentrators, there would not be enough staff to use them.
Recognizing the skill gap, more than 65 nurses from BINA came together to give video conference sessions to their Indian counterparts on the treatment of Covid-19 patients and use of the associated equipment.
Coming to different hospitals based on the level of demand, Mr. Packiam stressed the importance of “rehabilitating” nurses “quickly” to meet rising demand.
He explained how BINA members share the very best in practice and advice, meeting the two waves of Covid-19 in the UK.
“The nurses negotiated with the two Covids [waves] and successfully our nurses have saved hundreds of lives, ”Mr. Packiam said.
“They had that experience, so [we thought] Why don’t we share that knowledge? So, that’s what we did. ”
He added that nurses supported by the association are likely to be new to the job.
“We don’t teach experts there,” Mr. Packiam said. “The nurses were probably newly qualified and put that on the ward right away.”
With 24 different main languages in India, it is important that the sessions are conducted as “nurses supporting Indian nurses” to ensure they can effectively communicate and understand the training.
Mr Packiam said it was “strong” to see nurses coming together in this time of crisis to support each other.
Due to the crisis in India, BINA has also given more focus to the benefit offer for members and has created many different peer support and self-help group sessions where nurses can discuss their emotional and mental health.
Last month the group also held an online multi-faith prayer session where nurses prayed about the Covid-19 crisis in India.
The event was attended by a number of nurse leaders including England’s chief nursing officer Ruth May and the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s chief executive and registrar, Andrea Sutcliffe, who stood in solidarity with Indian nurses.
Those in the Indian community are both “culturally” and “religiously sensitive”, Mr. Packiam explained, and thus meet to pray and have leaders of the pastors who send, send members a message that “people are there to support us”.
The network also runs yoga and Bollywood dance sessions to reinforce the behavior of nurses.
After the pandemic, BINA hopes to “maintain some of the good practices we know”, said Mr. Packiam, who added: “We don’t want to stop it just because Covid is over.”