Author: susthingsout

Change Today, Protect tomorrow. susthingsout is The University of Worcester's community blog on sustainability. It has an external facing side (as a publishing platform) and an internal learning side, which is private to the students and academics. Its impact is in linkages to sustainability projects (Academic, Social, Economic and Environmental) introduced into the curriculum by live internal and external events, student-led projects, talks, conferences, special features, guest contributors and case histories so students can see that we can change today to protect tomorrow.

PPE and its impact on the environment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is used to help limit the spread of infectious diseases to others and the wearer. It is widely used throughout healthcare sectors which come into contact with blood and other bodily fluids. Studies suggest that if each person in the UK wore a single-use face mask every day for 1 year, over 66,000 tonnes of unrecyclable plastic waste would be generated. Read more →


Mapping PNR parking for reuse

Through the University of Worcester’s continuing partnership with Worcester Polytechnic Institute, students have collaborated on a research project to quantify and map PNR parking in Worcester. The purpose of this research is to highlight the potential opportunities for reuse and redevelopment associated with local surplus PNR parking. Read more →


Simple, delicious, vegetarian sandwich ideas – with a twist!

Instead of letting your fridge food go to waste, put it to good use with some of these weird yet wonderful sandwich ideas. Vegetarian sandwich ideas by University of Worcester students Ashleigh Osborne (Words) and Joe Toft (Digital Media) Sammies in your Jammies was the Go Green Week event I was most looking forward to. We were promised 5 wacky sandwiches… Read more →

How to travel more sustainably and get to your lectures 21x faster

How to travel more sustainably by University of Worcester student Joseph Foster (BA English Literature, Year 2) How to travel more sustainably Everyone wishes they could get to where they are going just that little bit faster. In our city, we’re really not much different. Congestion has been an issue in Worcester for a long time and it has a… Read more →

Interface – Radical Sustainability

Interface is a worldwide leader in the design and production of modular flooring products that combine beauty with functionality and environmental credentials to help businesses and organisations bring their design vision to life. Interface was one of the first companies to publicly commit to sustainability, when it made its Mission Zero pledge in the mid-nineties. Mission Zero represents the company’s… Read more →

Embedding sustainability in the nursing curriculum


Professor Janet Richardson

Professor Janet Richardson, Professor of Health Service, Research Faculty of Health and Human Sciences, Plymouth University

Introducing sustainability concepts to undergraduate nursing and healthcare students

At Plymouth University we wanted to embed sustainability in the nursing curriculum in a way that made it relevant to practice. Our project aimed to introduce sustainability concepts to undergraduate nursing and healthcare students, and to increase awareness and encourage discussion. We recognised that implementing sustainability practices in healthcare requires a multi-professional approach so we worked with our Design colleagues to involve Product Design students in learning opportunities.

So often issues about climate change and sustainability can seem rather theoretical and remote; often the problems feel so much bigger than any individual so we become paralysed and unable to act. In healthcare we have significant challenges that relate to how we manage resources and how we can ensure we have sustainable supply chains for the things we use every day. Changes in climate, natural disasters and geopolitical events can impact on the availability of healthcare resources and our ability to deliver healthcare. The course we have devised demonstrates this to students through identifying and discussing the sustainability issues which may directly affect them as health care practitioners.

We have used our research in health and sustainability to develop scenario-based sessions for nursing and healthcare students that link evidence to practice. Students engage fully in the sessions, and the involvement of design students adds a new dimension to discussions and possible solutions.

Following these scenario-based sessions the students are asked to complete an attitudes and knowledge questionnaire which have been used to evaluate both student learning and the value of the course. Our findings are summarised below:

Change in attitudes

There has been a demonstrable change in attitudes towards sustainability and climate change and including these topics in the curriculum where student nurses participate in these sessions. Comments suggest the sessions are interesting and relevant to practice:

Really has made me question what to throw away where, and not to use equipment that is not needed. Made me think what I can do to help a problem fast approaching of lack of materials (student nurse).

Change in knowledge

A comparison of student nurses found better knowledge of waste management in those who had participated in the sustainability skills session compared with students who did not participate.

Interdisciplinary learning

Students have benefited from interdisciplinary learning: This gave us a better understanding of the problem.

I can imagine this being a real life situation (Design Student)

This was thought provoking.

Liked the low-high impact workshop, made me think with in relation to practice (Student Nurse).

Sustainability products

Product Design students we were able to implement an ‘empathic design process’. This involved observation of users and user environments to stimulate insights; idea generation, development and prototyping in 3D; collaborative discussion with users to evaluate and then refine concept propositions.


We have seen the benefits of academics from different disciplines working together. For example health academics have been learning about product development, Intellectual Property issues and Commercialisation

The team was shortlisted for a Plymouth University Vice-Chancellor’s Enterprise Award in recognition of the project in 2013, and we won the Green Gown Award 2014 for Courses and Learning.

We have been able to create further opportunities for students, such as via the development of a prototype e-version of the sustainability and healthcare scenario skills sessions. This will be developed by third year design students and tested by second and third year student nurses. The intention is to make this e-version more widely available to educators, nurses and other healthcare practitioners.


The course will undoubtedly provide inspiration to other Universities across the UK and internationally. It’s also wonderful that it’s stimulated further off-shoot projects. I think one big question other institutions will be asking is from a resource perspective who was involved and what were their roles?

Well, initially we had members of our Sustainability, Society and Health research group working with academic colleagues who teach the child health students. We very quickly involved colleagues in 3 D Design who teach product design; at Plymouth the design courses are underpinned by sustainable design principles. We now teach the sustainability scenarios to students across the nursing curriculum and run some sessions with other healthcare professional students.


The initial challenge was to convince colleagues that sustainability is relevant to the nursing curriculum, and we achieved this by running the scenario with our academic colleagues. The challenge now is to continue to develop new scenarios that are contemporary and evidence-based. In terms of advice to others, I would encourage them to make sure that the sustainability scenarios they use are practical, relevant and evidence-based, and that they are designed to focus participants on discussion.

The susthingsout editorial team would like to thank Professor Janet Richardson for providing this article.



Further details about the project can be found at:
Sustainability, Society and Health Research

Or you can follow the project: twitter @SSHRPlymUni and @NurSus_EU

Professor Richardson’s work can be found in the following journals:

Richardson J., Grose J., Gill JL., Hertel J., Jackson B., Sadeghian H., Kelsey J. (2014). Effect of climate change and resource scarcity on health care. Nursing Standard 28(45):44-49

Manzi, S., Nichols, A. & Richardson, J. (2014). A non-participant observational study of health and social care waste disposal behaviour in the South West of England. Journal of Health Services Research & Policy

Richardson J., Grose J., Doman M., Kelsey J. (2104) The use of evidence-informed sustainability scenarios in the nursing curriculum: development and evaluation of teaching methods. Nurse Education Today. 34:490-93

Grose J., Richardson J. (2013) Strategies to identify future shortages due to interruptions in the healthcare procurement supply chain: a method from the English National Health Service. Journal of Health Service Research Policy and Practice.



WHOLE EARTH? Hard Rain Project

WHOLE EARTH? successor exhibition to The Hard Rain Project.

Tell it and speak it and think it and breathe it Mark Edwards is one of the few environmental communicators to have personally witnessed the global issues that are defining the 21st century. Assignments for magazines, NGOs and United Nations agencies have taken him to over 150 countries.   One of the most widely published photographers in the world, his pictures… Read more →