Opening a fantastic selection of gardens across Scotland to raise money for hundreds of charities
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Scotland’s Community Nurses & QNIS Spring into COVID-19 Action

Just over a century ago, Scotland was gripped by the ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic and the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland trained the Queen’s Nurses who cared for people at home through that period.  Now in its 131st year, QNIS is still a respected, independent charity supporting community nurses whose work is more important than ever during COVID-19.

As you are no doubt aware, the relationship between Scotland’s Gardens Scheme and QNIS also reaches way back. The money raised through SGS supports our central programmes: The Queen’s Nurse programme – developing Scotland’s community nurse leaders as they truly make a difference in our communities; and the Catalysts for Change programme, giving small grants to nurses who are leading projects which address inequality in our society, work which is continuing through the pandemic albeit in new ways.

The novel coronavirus is having a profound effect on every aspect of life. The photo journals and virtual garden visits on the SGS website are both a reminder of the glories of Spring and an example of creative ways of moving forward.

Similarly, QNIS is adjusting to new realities. Health and care workers have never experienced this level of uncertainty and there are moments when the anxiety feels overwhelming. In hospitals teams have been really thoughtful about rest rooms for staff where they can sit down and debrief together. Community nurses are finding renewed comfort and strength in connecting with the natural world as they take a moment to breathe between stressful visits. But for many the only safe space to cry is the car.


Many nurses have been redeployed to new roles, bringing their skill expertise and flexible approach to delivering the best possible care through the pandemic. To enable frontline staff through these transitions QNIS has set up a range of support. Dealing well with COVID-19 requires a steep learning curve. So, a dedicated section of the QNIS website is updated with official advice and guidance from a range of relevant organisations to ensure nurse have the information they need.

Ensuring that nurses take good care of themselves has also been a central focus; Chief Executive and Nurse Director, Clare Cable, has been running listening and care sessions in the evenings for Queen’s Nurses (using Zoom videoconferencing). In addition, the wellbeing practices we use in the Queen's Nurse programme are now available on the QNIS website.


QNIS is also working with The Scottish Poetry Library and other partners, to compile a collection of poems to comfort, support and inspire health and care staff. You can find the poems at or put #PoemsforCarers into your search engine. If you’d like to contribute your own poem or one you think would inspire health and care staff the details are here.

Although it seems a long time since life and work were normal, we now have an online version of our Annual Newsletter and 2019 Review of the Year: There are some lovely stories and photographs of our work, which we’d encourage you to read.

Even during a pandemic, gardens keep growing and nurses keep caring. As is true for all gardeners, the staff at QNIS are continuing their work with hope and determination. We remain confident that the ‘new normal’ will include both beautiful gardens open to visitors and community nurses returned to their usual roles, helping to keep all of us healthy and active.