In the second of our four-part interview series featuring our new scholars, we have Katri Sajama, the winner of Queen Silvia Nursing Award Finland 2017.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and why did you decide to become a nurse?
I’m a first-year nursing student at Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK). As an adult student and a mother, I’m usually busy with my work and family responsibilities while studying full-time at the same time. However, I love everything that I’m doing right now, so multitasking doesn’t feel like a burden. Instead, it feels more like freedom with endless possibilities.
One day, I decided to make a list of jobs I would be happy to do without anyone paying me for it. Having gravitated towards health and e-care for several years in my career, I narrowed down to top two choices on my list: work in a vegan restaurant (and I’m not even a vegetarian!) to achieve a better understanding of nutrition and health or spend my days with terminal care patients. And, this was how I decided to apply to nursing school!
For anyone longing for something new, searching for more meaning in their life or considering a career change for one reason or another, this simple practice may be helpful.
Why did you apply for Queen Silvia Nursing Award?
I was simply interested in participating, interacting on the platform, coming up with a final representable form of my idea and presenting it to the jury. At the same time, I wanted to get some experience. However, it had never crossed my mind that I might win this scholarship. Therefore, achieving these goals before everything has even started yet only increased the feeling of receiving an incredible present and entering an unexpected adventure. You can’t even tell someone about Queen Silvia Nursing Award without using the word ‘international’! Internships abroad, trips, events, people and connections, language skills and nursing knowledge are just some of the many possibilities.
How did you come up with your winning idea?
I would like to see more two-way solutions in e-care. Instead of just measuring, collecting data and sending an alarm to healthcare professionals, health technology should be able to react to situations in different consoling, calming and guiding ways. The care of the elderly could especially benefit from more nostalgic appearances, sounds in apparatuses, user-friendly technology that is traditionally or automatically guided and voices and pictures of loved ones.
My idea of “Friendly Doorkeeper” came to me originally when I was doing a school project. I had read a lot about the different types of dementia and spent time taking care of the elderly. Then I tried to imagine how dementia would feel like to me: waking up not knowing where I am, wondering if it is day or night, not knowing who I am – probably I would soon head to the door, hoping to figure out more about my current situation, only to find the door locked; or if not locked, getting lost outside in the middle of the night.
Not limiting myself to the possible resources available, I then tried to imagine what would be most helpful in those situations described. I quickly realised that not much extra effort would be needed to turn the many already existing door systems into protective, comforting guards. With the “Friendly Doorkeeper”, the door will be designed to have a speaking function that can be activated by pressing the door-handle. The programmed voice would then speak to the person in a familiar and safe voice, like a family member or favourite nurse, and tell the person to stay in the safety of their own house and why they were kept there, when the nurse would be coming the next time and how they could contact the nurse.
I hope flexible informing of patients when any kind of restrictions like locks, belts, harnesses etc. is necessary, will be a big thing in the future, or even made statutory. Technology is the best way to achieve this as it can be active 24/7. Nurses, technicians and patients’ family members are also needed to invent new ways of helping patients. As Walt Disney put it: “If you can dream it, you can do it”.
What are your next steps as a Queen Silvia Nursing Award scholar?
As a scholar, I hope to achieve a deeper understanding of the dementia patients’, their family members’ and their caretakers’ daily lives and realities. In 2018, I hope to travel, study and work in all of the countries where Queen Silvia Nursing Award and Swedish Care International have partners in and even take my 11-year-old son with me when doing so. I could do some gardening, run errands and play cards with residents occasionally as well. Studying in general, and the Queen Silvia Nursing Award scholarship, in particular, has opened the doors and windows to endless possibilities for me.
This is the second of a four-part interview series featuring our new Queen Silvia Nursing Award 2017 scholars. Check out the rest of the interviews from our Polish, Swedish and German scholars as well!