A new toolkit has been launched today to help nurses and health professionals throughout Europe embed sustainability into their teaching and learning.
Known as the NurSus TOOLKIT, the online platform provides a host of materials to put climate change and sustainability at the heart of healthcare training, and was showcased for the first time at the University of Plymouth. The event was jointly hosted by the University’s Health and Community, and Sustainable Earth Institutes.
Providing free extensive and comprehensive teaching materials on sustainability and health, the toolkit offers lectures and activities that can be adapted to meet the needs of students studying subjects such as geography, design, nursing, midwifery, environment, public health, and health planning and management.
For example, one exercise asks students to consider how they could continue to deliver healthcare if equipment made from plastic was no longer available. Other activities are designed to make links between staying healthy and caring for the environment.
The toolkit is the outcome of a three-year collaboration between the University of Plymouth and universities in Esslingen (Germany), Jaen (Spain) and Maastricht (the Netherlands), funded by European Union programme Erasmus+.
The content of the toolkit is based on evidence from literature, nurse education experts and student groups, and is available in six languages – English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch and Polish.
Project lead Janet Richardson, Professor of Health Service Research at the University of Plymouth, said that the toolkit meets a vital need:
“Nurse educators are currently poorly prepared to teach students about the connections between resources, climate change, sustainability and health – and this new toolkit can help change that. Nursing is one of the largest professions in the continent; nurses can act as powerful agents for change in the use of health resources. Although climate change is a huge challenge in health care, this new resource – and its unique opportunity to integrate sustainability within nursing curricula – will help nurses and health professionals face it.”
In a supporting message, Dr David Pencheon OBE, Director of the NHS and Public Health England Sustainable Development Unit, said:
“As the Lancet has made clear, climate change is the biggest strategic threat to public health in the 21st Century, but also, if we act together now, the biggest health opportunity for the 21st Century. We need to make sustainability a core dimension of quality of care, and this NurSusTOOLKIT is important for the education of nurses to help them do exactly that.”
Professor Richardson added:
“Sustainable Development is the focus of International Nurses’ Day later this month, and the International Council of Nurses has made climate change and sustainability a priority. It’s been an important three years researching, developing and refining the resources, and we hope the NurSusTOOLKIT will help educators raise awareness among health professionals, as well as provide resources and activities to develop sustainability skills.”