‘Only Nannies Understand Nannies’

I’ve seen this written very recently by a nanny and I couldn’t disagree more. I want to explain why.

Let’s consider the nursing profession very briefly:

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the world, bringing with it illness, death, and disruption to our daily lives, one thing is standing out—the bravery, commitment, and dedication of our health and care staff, looking after people in their time of greatest need.

Staff working in health and care settings across the UK are facing unprecedented challenges in their daily working life, and in the unparalleled and extraordinary public health emergency in which we find ourselves, nurses stand as they always do—at the front line. Nurses everywhere are staffing clinics, hospital wards, and units—in some situations, literally working until they drop.

In response to this dire and unprecedented health crisis, nurses are doing what they have been trained to do. They have the knowledge and skills to deliver the care needed in all phases of the illness trajectory, and in reassuring, informing, and supporting people within communities who are frightened, worried, and want to stay well.

In addition to being nurses, they are also parents, siblings, friends, and partners with all of the worries and concerns shared by most of us —providing for and protecting ourselves and our families, and so in addition to caring for patients, the well‐being of their own families weighs heavily on each and every one of them at this time.

Do we really have to be nurses, part of the nursing profession to understand the above, to empathise, and to fight their corner for them should they call on the general public for support? Do we need to be a nurse to have an idea of the exhaustion they feel at the end of a shift, the fear they experience each day they go to work, the guilt many will feel when their patient dies, and the impact these awful experiences are inevitably having on their mental health? Of course we don’t and nor do we have to be a nanny to understand their role; observe and respect their professionalism; a nanny’s desire to support their employer, nurture their charges, and be the best nanny they can be.

I’ve spent just shy of 40 years advocating for nannies; representing them in a trade union capacity, and campaigning for improved pay and conditions. Campaigning for professional recognition, and acceptance of nannies by the wider childcare and early years workforce, which is why I’m particularly proud to Chair the Regulation Matters Campaign, a national campaign supported by all the leading organisations in the childcare and early years sector across the United Kingdom.

It is so disappointing to me when I see, particularly on social media, comments from nannies along the lines of “If it’s not solely about me (nannies), I’m not interested”. This saddens me greatly. I believe this is insular, with an air of superiority, misunderstood, and entitled. It is my view that nannies will never be considered an integral part of the wider early years workforce until they start seeing themselves as such.

At BAPN and Regulation Matters, we believe strongly in fighting for equality and inclusivity for nannies – exclusivity generally leads to isolation.


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