Anniversary honours work of ‘Lamp Lady’ Nightingale
Her decision to become a nurse appalled her parents but, as we mark the 201st anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, it’s clear that this remarkable Victorian trail-blazer remains a heroine for today.
Former primary school teacher Laura Steele of education resources experts PlanBee suggests marking Florence Nightingale Day on May 12 with your children.
She was born in 1820 into a wealthy family, named after the city of her birth in Italy.
Her family moved back to Britain in 1821.
In the Victorian era, girls from families like the Nightingales were expected to get married and spend their days looking after the home and children, with some occasional charity work. However, Florence had other ideas.
Florence decided not to get married. She was deeply religious and believed that God wanted her to do important work.
In 1844, she announced she was going to become a nurse, a decision that horrified her parents.
Doctors performed operations with no anaesthetic. Most people who went to hospital died there. Nurses were rarely trained, and it was not seen as a respectable profession.
In 1853 she was asked by a friend to run a hospital in London that cared for sick “gentlewomen”.
Her most famous work took place during the Crimean War which broke out in 1853 when Great Britain, France and Turkey went to war with Russia.
In 1854 she and 38 volunteer nurses travelled to Scutari Hospital.
Florence and her team cleaned the kitchens, and she hired a chef to cook better meals for the patients.
The patients were washed, and their bandages were clean and changed regularly. She made sure that everyone washed their hands frequently.
By night she walked around the wards with a lantern, making sure that the men were comfortable and helping them to write letters home – hence “The Lady with the Lamp”.
There was a marked fall in the hospital death rate.
And, when the war ended in 1856, Florence returned home a national hero.
In 1860, with the money she received from the government for her services during the Crimean War, she helped to found the Nightingale School and Home for Nurses in London.
She died on August 13 1910, aged 90.
Nightingale’s devotion to nursing has inspired, and continues to inspire, nurses around the world.
She is often regarded as the founder of modern nursing.
Her insistence on good hygiene and hand-washing remains relevant today. We were all told to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by washing our hands regularly.
The seven emergency NHS Nightingale hospitals that were opened in response to the pandemic were named after Florence.
Ten facts about Florence
1 Florence developed an interest in helping others from an early age. As a child, she cared for sick pets and servants.
2 Florence was welleducated and could speak French, German and Italian.
3 Florence had an older sister called Parthenope, affectionately known as “Pop”. She supported her sister’s work during the Crimean War.
4 When travelling home from Turkey, Florence gave her name as “Miss Smith” so that no one knew who she was as she didn’t want a fuss.
5 In 1856 she met with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, discussing with them her ideas for improving the military hospitals in Britain.
6 By the time she was 38, Florence was bedridden for most of her days due to an infection she never completely recovered from.
7 In 1859 Florence published a book called Notes on Nursing. At 76 pages long, it was for both nurses and the ‘ordinary woman’.
8 In 1870 Florence supported the founding of the British Red Cross.
9 In 1907 Florence was awarded the Order of Merit, an award given by the monarch for her work in the development of nursing. She was the first woman to have received the honour.
10 A famous Nightingale quote: “I attribute my success to this. I never gave or took any excuse.”
Check out https://planbee.com/ for Florence Nightingale educational packs and free downloads.