About the Memories of Nursing Project
This joint project originated in 2009 when a small group of nurse academics from Bournemouth University (BU) joined with a Trustee at the Retired Nurses National Home (RNNH) to start recording some of the residents’ stories. The aim of the project was to produce rich and detailed accounts of “non-elite nurses who have no record of their lives in historical documents” (Beiderman 2001). The team wanted to capture stories from the professional lives of a group of ageing nurses, many who had memories of nursing before and during the Second World War and remembered the early days of the National Health Service. Oral history is considered a crucial methodology in capturing the past to explore the changes in health care practice (Boschma et al 2008). Therefore, having gained ethical approval, we began recording in 2009; in 2015 we were successfully funded by the Heritage Lottery and have now actively taken the project forward again. The Dorset History Centre has helped us to train volunteers to work with academics to conduct more interviews and to transcribe them so we can publish the findings of the research. This website provides an online archive where we are able to share these professional records, information about nurse education and practice from the past, audio clips from the interviews, video clips about the RNNH and photographs from the past.
Beiderman N (2001) The voices of days gone by: advocating the use of oral history in nursing.Nursing Inquiry 8, 61-62
Boschma G, Scaia M, Bonifacio N & Roberts E (2008) Oral History Research. In: Capturing Nursing History: A guide to historical methods in research, Editors SB Lewenson and EK Herrmann. Springer, New York.
About the Retired Nurses National Home
The Retired Nurses National Home (RNNH) in Bournemouth is a residential home that provides residential care both on a permanent and respite (short term) basis to retired nurses and other health care professionals. It is staffed by qualified care, house keeping and catering staff under the supervision of a senior manager. RNNH provides excellent care and support in a large, comfortable and well-maintained building with beautiful lawns and gardens.
The RNNH was established as a result of the recognition that many nurses in the first half of the twentieth century dedicated their lives primarily to their work, living in hospital accommodation, earning small salaries and not owning their own property. On retirement, with fairly meagre pensions, many nurses struggled to pay rent as well as buying food and covering other expenses. A full history is available by following the links below but, in brief, a committee was set up to raise money to build a home for retired nurses in Bournemouth; its cornerstone was laid in 1937 and the first two residents, a cook and a matron moved in. Due to the Second World War the formal opening did not take place until 1946 but, by then and ever since, retired nurses (and now a wider group) have sought to retire in the home, based on Riverside Avenue in Bournemouth. It is a natural environment in which to capture oral histories as many residents are willing to share their experiences from the past and we value the support of the Friends of the Elderly who now manage the home.
Professor Francis Biley, RMN, SRN, BN, PGCE, MSc, PGDip, PhD
Professor Biley was an innovative and compassionate academic nurse who had the vision to establish and lead the ‘Memories of Nursing’ project. Very sadly, Fran passed away in 2012 so was unable to see the project through to completion however he needs to be represented as a key figure on this website as it was as a result of his ambition that we have progressed so successfully.
Fran Biley was born in Swansea and initially trained as a mental health nurse then as an adult nurse. Passionate about good nursing practice and care, Fran was a gifted and thoughtful academic who always had the person/ patient/ service user in the centre when teaching and undertaking research. He came to Bournemouth University in 2007 where he encouraged his students to explore, to challenge and to develop. Fran never expected them to follow him but to construct their own understandings and pathways to learning and practice. This made him a very special teacher and researcher; he leaves this ‘Memories of Nursing’ project as part of his legacy to the profession.
Eileen Richardson, RGN, SCM, Cert Ed, BA, MA Ed
Eileen trained in the School of Nursing of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh from 1955 to 1959. Subsequently she went on to take her Midwifery training in Perth Royal Infirmary over the following year. Early in her career, Eileen realised that she wanted to teach nursing so she gained clinical experience and then went on to do a course of preparation for the role of Nurse Tutor at the University of Edinburgh. This course ran over 2 years and the long break between years allowed time to visit Schools of Nursing in Scandinavia. This experience was not only a preparation for teaching but also the international experience opened her mind to the importance of exploring how nursing was taught and practised in other cultures. Eileen then worked in Nurse Education for many years both as a teacher and educational manager. Eileen is a graduate of both the Open and Sussex Universities, obtaining a master’s degree in Education at the latter. From 1993 to 2007, Eileen was a member of staff at the School of Health and Social Care at Bournemouth University where she held a number of leadership posts.
Since 2007 Eileen has remained active in a number of ways. She is Vice President of the European Transcultural Nursing Association, Secretary of the Phi Mu Chapter for England of Sigma Theta Tau International, and an Associate member of COHEHRE. She also works as a volunteer with the Retired Nurses National Home in Bournemouth and is at present working on the “Memories of Nursing” project with colleagues at Bournemouth University.
Professor B Gail Thomas, SRN, SCM, ADM, PGCEA, MSc, PhD
Professor Thomas is a nurse and midwife who studied nursing in Montreal Canada, qualifying in 1972, and then did midwifery in west London in 1980-81. Her career has spanned general and neonatal nursing, midwifery practice, midwifery education and then senior leadership in academia. She was the Dean of Health and Social Sciences at Bournemouth University for nine years and then led the university’s Centre for Excellence in Learning until she retired in 2017. She is now Emeritus Professor at Bournemouth University. Gail has been part of the Memories of Nursing project since it started in 2009 and fully supports the value of collecting the stories of nurses and midwives in order to learn from experiences in the past.
Sarah Keeley, RGN, DPSN, BSc Hons, MA
Sarah Keeley qualified as a Registered General Nurse in 1989. She then worked in a variety of community based settings. During this time she gained her Diploma in Professional Studies in Nursing. In 2002 she joined Bournemouth University to teach clinical skills, subsequently undertaking a BSc (Hons) in Health Studies and MA in Health and Social Care Education. She currently works as a University Practice Learning Advisor, facilitating mentors to support nursing students in practice.
Sarah has always had an interest in nursing history and was involved from the very start of the Memories of Nursing project. In May 2011 she used the data collected at that point to inform her MA dissertation “Principles and Practice of Nursing: An investigation of how nurses learnt their clinical skills1930-1965 to discover past teaching and learning techniques that could impact on current nurse education”. She has presented this work at conference and has been published in the Bulletin for the United Kingdom Association for the History of Nursing.