Lenin Nightingale’s Memories of Nursing

Like many nurses, Lenin often recollects his nursing memories. Memories help to reflect upon nursing practice and leadership and there is only one of Lenin-  a very special nurse / person indeed.

Lenin himself would write this better but I shall do my best here.


All student nurses in particular, may recall the fundamentals of making a bed. This example depicts the qualities that some may- or may not have, and possible gender differences.

Matron to Lenin ” I will return in half an hour. I want these 4 beds made perfectly”  . It was obviously not Lenin’s forte!

The female nurses quickly made the beds, in exchange for which, Lenin shaved the male patients. Matron accepted the level of perfection, but knew very well that the beds were NOT made by Lenin.

Another Matron asked Lenin to make the beds–. Deliberately he made them all at odds- such as one bedsheet touching the floor, or another not tucked in– . “Oh I give in” exclaimed Matron – to cheers from the remainder of the team. You will go far in management some said.

The Broken Sphyg

Hospital wards often borrow equipment from another ward. The sphyg had been borrowed from a notorious Matron- stern but she got the caring done efficiently. The sphy in question was now broken. Lenin for some reason, was given the job of returning the sphyg. The very wise Matron sent  a message back to the ward- she (unusually) invited Lenin into the office for  a cup of tea served in her best China teaset! Lenin- such  a charmer.

Drinks time

Lenin was often given the simplest of tasks ” caring for my ladies- is no job for  a man!” stated one matron.

Making coffees for patients- Lenin used the 10 pints of milk from the fridge, and the sealed tins of biscuits that were hidden in a cupboard. Such  a mountain of biscuits on the trolley but staff and patients loved it. Matron was not so amused—

Christmas and  a drinks table was arranged for patients, of alcohol that was donated throughout the year. “Please ensure you have one yourself ” said the hospital manager. Those were the days–.

Christmas Day

One nurse was stuck in  snow drift. The stern matron said it was no excuse – even though snow ploughs could not get through- (she should have slept at work). Lenin  said he was going to get  a snow plough – he got quite  a few provisional bookings.

Actually – it was  a microlite so says Lenin! He was going to have lessons and planned to land in  a nearby cricket pitch as it was flat — .

Many nurses (or senior carers/carers) dread the handover time when the phone often rings :

Lenin had worked via  a nursing agency, in  a nursing home on Christmas Eve night. The phone rang near handover time- the day nurse was unable to come to work. There would be no nurse on duty. Lenin rang the home manager- she was unable to come as arrangements for her Christmas day had been made. Lenin worked an additional 3 hours- the manager then kindly came to work. Lenin had some difficulty obtaining payment for the additional 3 hours- the home owner had not sanctioned the booking ! Yes- Lenin managed to get paid, but it was not the issue for him.


As a student nurse, Lenin sat Mr Dunnen on the commode.

A short time later Lenin was met by  a perplexed Sister” You are  a unique nurse. You put Mr Dunnen on the commode without  a commode pot in”

Back then as a male , we were well looked after (or at least Lenin was for some reason)- the team of female nurses had dealt with the situation.

Abandon shift!

Lenin  arrived for  a night shift as an agency nurse. Looking out of the window at 3am, a taxi had arrived.

A care assistant announced ” This is not for me “. She took her coat and bag and left the shift. If he recalls correctly, it was her second shift.

The two of them who remained – struggled on.


Many years ago, Nurse Gust described his methods for reducing stress. His care of mentally ill patients whom he cared for, was excellent as a result.

Always volunteer to go to such places as the pharmacy- go the long way round via the coffee shop!

Beware of hiding places;

Stand on  a toilet seat for half an hour so nobody sees you when looking under the toilet door.

Lie on  a bed under  a blanket for half an hour.

Tidy the storeroom and ensure it takes an hour.

Would be difficult with cameras but Lenin still recommends them.

The night shift

There were many managers who realised how impossible it is for staff to adequately function after several 12 hour night shifts. Many allowed staff to have a  2 hour sleep on shift, and would encourage it. There was always one member of staff who was awake.

The nurses’ “home”

Nurse Fox mentioned to Lenin, he had pleaded to move rooms as he disliked the one he is in but the stern matron refused.”Oh, do what I did” suggested Lenin “block the tap with  a towel and flood the room”.

All in the name of power and control.

Too sensitive  a heart to nurse

Nurse Stun confided in me many years ago , she was terribly upset about  a situation she had witnessed. A patient had been admitted to an unsuitable ward for him where there was room- against a promise made to his wife by nurses. My reply to her was, she had too sensitive  a heart for the system of nursing. All the sensitive nurses leave.

To many nurses it is  a job for people who abide by rules, following Goffman’s principle. Nursing itself is an institution.






2 thoughts on “Lenin Nightingale’s Memories of Nursing

  1. Frightfully particular, were the Sisters and Matrons in my student days. Bed making was one of those pet obsessions which made life difficult for us , the patients never noticed whether their beds were made right or not – they just scrambled into them.( Remember fixed height beds!) The crease of the sheets had to go down the middle of the bed, the Provincial insignia had to be readable so not inside out. The seam had to be outward so that some unsuspecting patient didn’t catch his toes on it… where did that bit of mythological tripe come from? We used red Mac’s covered with draw sheets on those days, for incontinent patients, and none of the red rubber could show! I was useless at making beds on my own. I was also regarded as dreadfully slow, so if the beds had to be done before a certain time, no one ever asked me to do them on my own.

    The Corners Method varied depending on the training school and hospital. It was the same when it came to laying out bodies too – but I guess that’s a different story!

    In A&E we used pillow slips stuffed with a blanket, and tell patients they should be grateful for this because it would be far worse with out a pillow. But they were virtually always indignant and asked for softer pillows. Where did they think they were?

    Quite honestly, bed making can be fun but only when it is done as part of team work. I have never understood the relatives who will stand round watching one make a bed and not offer to help. One day…

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