We have very exciting news indeed.
As you know, we have created a truly exciting Timetable for This Is Us 2020 – a celebration of veterinary nursing and we asked The Webinar Vet to work with us to deliver the production via their Zoom platforms.
In order to create a seamless production for this interactive weekend of celebration, last month we tendered for production Partners and are very pleased to announce that The Webinar Vet are producing the event with us .
With so many events being taken online, we've worked really hard to produce a plethora of fantastic keynote speakers, including Dr Jane Goodall and Claire Lomas MBE plus a Timetable of activities to keep the audience of veterinary nurses and veterinary professionals engaged and active, such as belly dancing, yoga and exercise!
This celebration will be attended by literally thousands of BVNA members who will be invited to attend for free, as well as delegates from the wider veterinary community both in the UK and Internationally.
Our President, Jo Hinde says
“The BVNA This Is Us celebration is a new and exciting online event for us and as such, we needed to partner with a company that not only had an excellent reputation for running online events but also, one that understands our vision and meets our ethical standards. We are delighted to be working with The Webinar Vet and have every confidence that our virtual celebration will exceed all expectations. “
Anthony Chadwick, CEO at The Webinar Vet says
"I'm thrilled to be working with BVNA. I've been fortunate to work with some fabulous VNs in my career including a previous BVNA president. I remember as a school boy that VNs were a very rare breed and the profession has become so much stronger as the veterinary nurse profession has grown. I'm really looking forward to BVNA This Is Us event! Definitely no rain will fall unlike at Telford!"
We look forward to taking part in this extra-ordinary celebration along with all our members and guests.
Here is the latest update for veterinary surgeons, nurses and practices on guidance relating to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Remote prescribing temporary guidance extended
The RCVS Council Covid-19 Taskforce recently decided to extend until the end of September our temporary guidance that allows veterinary surgeons to prescribe prescription-only veterinary medicines (POM-Vs) remotely, without first having physically examined the animal, but with a minor language adjustment to the flowchart to allow more room for individual professional judgement in each case.
Read full details here.
Joint letters to seek practice support for student placements
Together with a number of other leading veterinary organisations, we have recently written to UK veterinary practices to seek their ongoing help and support for veterinary students and student veterinary nurses (SVNs) in the face of the significant disruption to their education and training caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Read full details here.
A message from Mandisa
RCVS President Mandisa Greene posted a short video message on social media earlier this week, to thank all veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses for their continuing hard work and commitment during the ongoing pandemic. She also reiterated the College’s reassurance about clinical decision-making during the pandemic, and reminded vets and vet nurses about the College’s advice service.
Watch Mandisa’s message here.
Requirements of VN students on clinical placements
RCVS Veterinary Nurses Council has recently reviewed its guidance on student veterinary nurses’ attendance in clinical placements or employment. SVNs are required to complete the RCVS Day One Skills for Veterinary Nurses in their totality as these seek to assure competence at the point of registration. However, it is recognised that for all students in their final year of study, it may be difficult for them to complete the 1,800 hours of clinical placement or employment that the RCVS Veterinary Nurse Registration Rules require. Where a student has completed the Day One Skills in less than the required 1,800 hours, this will be assessed on a case-by-case basis upon their application to register.
Read FAQ 9 here.
Coronavirus testing update
NHS Test and Trace has launched a new public health campaign across England to encourage anyone who has developed coronavirus symptoms to get a free coronavirus test as soon as possible. Whilst all those with symptoms are eligible for testing across the UK, specific arrangements are in place in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to prioritise certain sectors and key workers.
Each of the four nations have launched separate contact tracing programmes to avoid blanket national lockdown restrictions and to help facilitate local lockdown situations to target the virus. Each programme will ask those who test positive for Covid-19 to provide contact details for the people that they have been in recent contact with and contact tracers will notify each of those persons to self-isolate for 14 days.
Read FAQ 21 and FAQ 26 here.
Face coverings in veterinary practices
The government has extended the requirement of wearing face coverings to all indoor settings where individuals are likely to come into contact with people they do not normally meet, including veterinary services, zoos, aquariums, visitor farms and storage & distribution facilities. This requirement became law in England from 8 August 2020 and different rules apply for the devolved nations.
Read FAQ 24 here.
Responding to pet owner concerns following Covid-positive cat
In response to confirmation on 27 July 2020 that a domestic cat was the first animal in the UK to test positive for Covid-19, there is no change to government guidance on the testing of animals for the disease. There is no evidence that the animal was involved in the transmission of the disease to humans nor is there evidence that other domestic animals are able to transmit the virus to humans. Public Health England has issued advice in line with general coronavirus guidance to keep washing hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.
Read FAQ 25 here.
Guidance on regional lockdowns
In light of the local lockdowns imposed by the government, it is inevitable that veterinary professionals will face circumstances where they are restricted in being able to physically attend their practice to work. In the event of a local lockdown, travel to work will be permitted only where it is essential to do so and if you are unable to work from home. In addition, veterinary professionals who are living or working in a lockdown area will be able to provide emergency care in person only if there is no other option to do so. As such, veterinary professionals should exercise caution in offering any routine services.
Read FAQ 27 here.
Having a little bit of knowledge of conversational Welsh can help you to integrate with clients and communities. It can also open up a lot of new social experiences and provide an alternative perspective to see the world. The whole process of learning Welsh can be difficult though, with busy schedules and lack of space to practice. Also, the structured Welsh courses do not necessarily cover the terms most useful in our profession.
Wales Veterinary Science Centre would like to offer individuals the chance to learn (or practice, depending on level) speaking in, and listening to, Welsh in a safe environment, FOR FREE. Hopefully starting before the end of the summer.
The agenda will be developed according to the needs of the groups, but in general, they plan to have two groups who will meet online every week through Zoom®, for no longer than an hour, in a friendly social environment, with a chance to network with colleagues.
Group 1 – Beginners - The emphasis will be on pronunciation and comprehension, basic conversation (hello, how are you etc), place names, animal names and other veterinary/farming terminology and then in to other areas of interest.
Group 2 – Aimed at those who have some Welsh but need confidence to use and therefore develop it more - The emphasis will be on conversational Welsh and developing into clinical discussion as decided by the group.
Depending on the level of interest, they may use breakout rooms so that the groups are smaller to allow for more confidence and chance to speak and also regional (so that the issue of regional differences can be addressed more easily).
Wales Veterinary Science Centre are interested to hear from individuals who are keen to join, but also from those who would be keen to help facilitate and teach.
If you are interested in joining as a participant, or as a Welsh speaking facilitator, then please email firstname.lastname@example.org and mark your email “Welsh4Vets” in the subject line.
JONATHAN M. KING BVetMed FHEA MRCVS - CENTRE (QUALITY) MANAGER - WALES VETERINARY SCIENCE CENTRE
Together with a number of other leading veterinary organisations, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has recently written to UK veterinary practices to seek their ongoing help and support for veterinary students and student veterinary nurses (SVNs) in the face of the significant disruption to their education and training caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
A joint letter was sent to veterinary practices from the Presidents/Chairs of the RCVS, Veterinary Schools Council, British Veterinary Association, Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons and Association of Veterinary Students concerning extra-mural studies placements for veterinary students; a separate joint letter to all veterinary nurse training practices from the RCVS and British Veterinary Nursing Association concerned training and employment placements for SVNs.
Both letters recognised the invaluable contribution of veterinary practices to the development and training of the UK’s veterinary and veterinary nurse students, especially how students rely on the support and guidance of practice teams as they work towards graduation and qualification.
The letters recognised that early government restrictions to help slow the spread of the virus were to keep people safe and protect the NHS, but that these had had significant negative impact on veterinary professionals and businesses, including major disruption to the education and training of veterinary and veterinary nurse students.
They further described how Universities and Colleges had been proactive and innovative in providing remote teaching while lockdown measures were in place, and that the RCVS had agreed to a number of temporary changes relating to both EMS for veterinary students and registration rules for final-year SVNs.
In particular, the letters stated that the RCVS was not placing restrictions either on EMS placements or on SVN training/employment placements.
While reiterating that student and staff safety remained paramount, the co-signatories hoped that as lockdown conditions continued to ease around most of the UK, practices would begin to consider whether they could start to offer face-to-face EMS placements for veterinary students, and training and employment placements for SVNs once again.
While recognising that this could present greater challenges in some practice environments than others, as Government guidelines needed to be followed, it was hoped that those practices who were able to offer such placements safely, would consider doing so as soon as possible, to once again provide the support that was so crucial to the development of the UK’s future veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses.
The original letters are available via: www.rcvs.org.uk/news-and-views/news/leading-vet-organisations-seek-practice-support-for-vet-and-vn/
Facemasks have been widely used in surgical settings for a hundred of years and first use
documented in 1897 (Romney 2001) (Da Zhou, Sivathondan, and Handa 2015). This has
been ingrained in the definition of best practice in human health care although the use of
masks have been under review due to its controversial use. Evidence in its use has been
stated that in order to have a viable purpose it must satisfy three key elements:
3. Cost effectiveness
(Da Zhou, Sivathondan, and Handa 2015)
These all point to the evidence of which the purpose of facemask is aimed to do rather than
just a personnel ritual in the surgical environment. (Datta 2010)
A facemask is a barrier device used as either a single method or part of a comprehensive
infection control regime to prevent healthcare providers from breathing or coughing on
patients. It is also equally used to prevent patient sneezes and sputum from making contact
with the healthcare providers face or eyes and from being inhaled.
It was first documented in its use in 1897 by a German surgeon, Johann von Mikulicz
Radecki, who defined a surgical face mask as a single layer of gauze. This was later found
to be proven as more effective when an extra layer of gauze was added at the same time
(Spooner 1967). It was initially believed bacteria in the form of droplets from the nose and
mouth of surgical / medical staff had a role to play in the formation of wound infections in the
postoperative stage. Even as early as the 1900, it was advocated that masks were sterilised
and replaced after each use. (Spooner 1967).
Evidence has also shown that bacterial contamination of the surgical environment is reduced
when personnel are wearing such masks (Iqbal and Sarwar 2015).
It is even stated that the absence of surgical face masks could leave patients at risk of
wound infections through droplets contamination. (Iqbal and Sarwar 2015)
A surgical study in the United States involving 8500 cases concluded that 26% of all blood
exposures occurred on the face and neck. (White and Lynch 1993).
An alternative viewpoint is that skin shedding could be a cause of contamination as a result
of mask movement of the wearer. (Lipp 2003) In some cases incorrect fittings of surgical
face masks and unsuitable tension of tie backs are also a contributing factor of poor use and
compliance of personnel. Leakage often known as venting which could be a potential factor
from the sides of ill fitting masks causing airosals contaminants to escape. (Da Zhou,
Sivathondan, and Handa 2015). In some cases it was reported that some personnel don't
cover their nose when wearing face masks which can be contradictory and exacerbate the
issue. (Iqbal and Sarwar 2015).
There is also a psychological element to wearing such masks from both personnel and also
to the surgical patient if in a human healthcare setting. From a personnel point of view, there
is reassurance that they are working in a safe environment and part of a professional
surgical team. In terms of patients, getting that reassurance and confidence that they are
receiving the best treatment possible is crucial to recovery. Communication and social
difficulties such as the ability to express emotions and expressions can pose difficulties from
clinicians when dealing with patients. (Roberson et al. 2012)
It has been documented that during a pandemic, there are concerns over promoting the use
of facemasks as this may offer the public a false sense of security and neglect social
distancing. There is also the potential that an ill-health stigma is attached to the wearer.
Compliance rates are high with compulsory measures rather than the voluntarily wearing of
face masks (Howard et al., 2020)
In terms of filtration efficiency, there have been numerous documented studies evaluating
various types of masks and the results do vary from type to type. However, having said this, it
is interesting to note that the use of masks during prolonged periods of time or the build up
of moisture as a result, did not impair the efficiency of the mask in terms of filtration or
protection. (Romney 2001)
There are no current guidelines or methods of deciphering the quality or measuring the
efficiency of surgical face masks and they should always be used under the definition of
filters rather than actual barriers. It is anticipated that due to the huge range of variability
between different commercial surgical face masks, it should always be used as part of a
wider PPE regime or even in some cases extending face mask to a full facial
In balance of this, the use of masks have always posed an issue to the wearer where some
people find them difficult to fit, unsuitable for the individual, wearing them incorrectly or
simply avoiding wearing them altogether. In one study, it was shown that a temperature
increase and the humidity build up in the personnel mask actually caused some discomfort
leading to mental impairment and ability to fulfil their performance to complete their role (Romney 2001).
In one paper it was stated that the importance of facemask must only formulate part of a
wider protection regime to include PPE for eye protection, gloves, gowns and also the
adequate training to use this properly. The same paper also suggested that non-aerosol
generating procedures in medical scenarios have shown that there is no benefit of
respirators over standard surgical masks other than to both use part of a wider
comprehensive protection and the ability to use this to maximum benefit. (Wilkinson 2020)
There are two main types of masks used, these being surgical and N95. The definition of
N95, is that masks of this type exclude 95% of non-oil-based sodium chloride particles, sized
at 0.3um in diameter. (Gralton and McLaws 2010)
There is controversial and conflicting evidence on the use of such masks, mostly due to
various evidence on the effectiveness in its use, an example is the valve and non-valve
valved N95 masks only offers filtration on inhalation and not exhalation. The
non-valved types filter both hence the reason for its use in health care settings.
The differences of the two masks is that the surgical face mask prevents contamination of
the surgical site / field where N95 masks were used in the healthcare setting to offer
protection to the personnel from inhaling particles from infected patients. (Table 2)
The effectiveness of N95 masks have been documented in one study which found that N95
masks were found to have less filter penetration, less total inward leakage along with less
facial seal leakage to the wearer in comparison to normal surgical masks. (Smith et al. 2016)
The effectiveness was also further investigated for comparison in another study between the
two masks with the aim of using in scenarios where influenza virus is concerned, The results
of this study from the collection efficiency have shown that N95 filtering facepiece respirator
masks were superior compared to standard surgical face masks. Face seal leakage seems
to be one of the persisting factors that needs to be addressed through further research.
(Richardson and Hofacre 2010)
The use of FFP (Filtering Facepiece masks) are in use and certified by the European Union
and so these are most commonly found in european countries. The EN149 classifies the
efficiency of masks into three categories such as FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3. The FFP2 is the
closest equivalent to the N95 masks. (See Table 1)
The table one shows the effectiveness of typical face masks available for surgical use.
Table 1 Filtering face piece mask (EN 149 standard):
Face Mask Type
Internal Leak rate
Low level dust for DIY
Equivalent to N95)
Serves as protection against SARS, influenza viruses
Asbestos and fine particles - does not offer protection against gases.
(Lee et al. 2016) (Ciotti, Bouvet, and Abiteboul 2008)
Table 2 Differences between Surgical Masks and N95 Respirator:
Surgical face mask
Offers protection to the personnel against large droplets or any hazardous liquids such as blood or bodily fluids. This also offers protection to the patients when in close proximity due to respiratory concerns.
Offers protection against particles which could be aerosol in origin.
Fitting Ear Looped or tie back
Adjustable fitting to ensure a seal around the mask.
95% of airborne particles filtration.
Apparent around edges of mask
Upon tight fitting, this should be minimal.
Disposable - limited use
Some are designed to be reusable Guidance on some types can be re sterilised:
UV light 67 J/m2 of UV-C will inactivate SARS-CoV-2**
Oven heat - 70C (148F) heat for between 5 and 30 minutes**
Fit testing requirements
3 ply design (3 layer). ‘Melt blown’ layer in the middle for filtration.
Usually valved although do come in non-valved designs. (Valved versions only filters inhalation and not exhalation which not commonly used in health care workers)
** Both may cause some low-level damage to the respirator.
based evidence have shown that household masks have some filtration capacity
which offer some protection.
particles in comparison to the effectiveness of 89% of surgical face masks. (Davies et
use. (Man et al. 2020)
spread of viruses.
within the veterinary practice both for veterinary surgeons and nurses.
procedures alongside the use of PPE.
Coronavirus - 0.06 - 0.14 microns
Influenza - 0.08 - 0.12 microns
Droplets - 5um - 10um
Speech - 1um
(Bouvier and Palese 2008) (Howard et al. 2020)
Written by Albert Holgate BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN, RVN and Faye Ashcroft RVN.
Albert qualified as a veterinary nurse in 2007 and also gained the advanced diploma in 2013 at Myerscough College. Albert has also completed his BSc (Hons) Clinical Veterinary Nursing in 2014. Currently employed as Clinical Manager at R.S.P.C.A Greater Manchester Animal Hospital where he oversees the responsibility of a team of nurses at various levels some of which are actively undergoing their own training as part of ongoing status as a role of qualified assessor. An active council member of the BVNA and also have a special interest in research and development in anaesthesia and shelter medicine.
Faye qualified as a veterinary nurse in 2018 at Proco Wigan. Currently employed as a Staff nurse at R.S.P.C.A Greater Manchester Animal Hospital. Faye has an interest in shelter medicine and anaesthesia.
Public Health England has issued advice on test and trace in recognition of the potential impact on veterinary practices, following lobbying by the British Veterinary Association (BVA).
When the contact tracing systems were introduced across the UK, BVA raised concerns that veterinary practices could be forced to shut down due to the nature of veterinary work that means veterinary professionals cannot physically distance. This could have a significant impact on the provision of animal health and welfare services, particularly in an emergency. BVA asked the Health Secretary and Defra to assess contact tracing system calls with veterinary professionals in the same way that those in human healthcare settings are considered.
BVA President Daniella Dos Santos raised the issues directly with Defra Minister Lord Goldsmith and the UK Chief Veterinary Officer during a virtual visit in June and they pledged to take up the matter.
In response, Public Health England has issued updated advice to BVA and the RCVS recognising the importance of veterinary services and the impact that disruption to healthcare provision and veterinary services can have in some rural communities. In summary the guidance means that veterinary professionals who have taken all precautions and who wear appropriate PPE when working together will not be considered as contacts and will not be asked to self-isolate.
Appropriate PPE includes:
In addition, in the event that self-isolation is required but would lead to a major problem with the provision of veterinary services to support animal health and welfare in an area, veterinary practices can discuss the situation with the local PHE Health Protection Team who will consider a local risk assessment.
Commenting, BVA President Daniella Dos Santos said:
“This is a huge breakthrough for veterinary practices who have been working under the fear of the contact tracing programme potentially forcing them to shut down.
“It’s the number one concern that members have been raising with me through our Covid Clinics and in other communications, and I’m delighted that we now have a positive outcome for them in England.
“We’re incredibly grateful to Lord Goldsmith and UK CVO Christine Middlemiss for their support in getting the new PHE guidance approved. We’ll continue to raise the issue in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and hope that a similar approach is taken.
“The advice to veterinary professionals in England is that as long as you are taking all precautions such as practising social and physical distancing, practising good hand hygiene and wearing appropriate PPE, you will not be considered as contacts and will not have to self-isolate. If you test positive for Covid-19 make sure you explain the full circumstances to the contact trace call handler.
“It’s important to remember that the contact trace information is confidential so if a client or a contact outside your workplace identifies you as a contact, you may still need to self-isolate. Veterinary practices and professionals should continue to follow social distancing and biosecurity guidance.”
Pets are pretty awesome. They're cute, love-able creatures that improve our lives and lift our spirits when we feel down.
It is with this thought in mind that VN Times chose the theme for this year’s VN Times calendar competition: Makes Me Smile!
Maybe you have a puppy pal that makes you laugh every day, or a cat that loves curling up with you on the sofa. Perhaps you’ve helped deliver a healthy litter of adorable kittens, or maybe you have happy memories of past holidays where you caught a camel pulling a funny face at you…
Whatever the case, if any of the aforementioned examples resulted in a photo that makes you smile every time you look at it, VN Times want to see it too!
Their “Makes Me Smile” calendar will showcase the top 12 photos, and the one receiving the most votes will appear on the front cover. The winning entrant will collect a £500 Amazon gift card, while 11 runners-up will each receive a £50 Amazon gift card.
For details of entry, including full terms and conditions, visit www.vettimes.co.uk/makesmesmile.
Ceva Animal Health helps vets and nurses ‘ease the pressure’ in their hypertensive felinepatients with their new and easy-to-use website www.easethepressure.co.uk which will offerthe latest and most up-to-date support helping practices succeed with routine blood pressurescreening.
The website, dedicated to feline hypertension, contains all the support your practice couldneed to successfully manage feline hypertension including;
Ceva Animal Health has developed this website to help practices continue improving felinehealth and welfare following on from their recently launched Feline HypertensionAmbassador course by Dr Sarah Caney. This website has been designed to offer practicesthe support they need to enable them to confidently talk to their clients about the condition,accurately measure blood pressure in a cat-friendly way as well as making blood pressurescreening as simple as possible for practices to implement.
Visit www.easethepressure.co.uk for all the support you need to run blood pressure clinicssuccessfully. This website has been developed by Ceva Animal Health UK, manufacturer ofAmodip®.
1. Taylor S, et al. ISFM Consensus Guidelines on the Diagnosis and Management ofHypertension in Cats. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (2017) 19, 288–303.
York – July 2020: Five vet nurses working in a range of clinical settings have been announced as the winners of Animalcare’s Vet Nurse Heroes competition. During Vet Nurse Awareness Month (VNAM) in May 2020, the company called on veterinary team members to nominate nurse colleagues who had consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty, particularly since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year. It was deluged with nominations and has just announced the five inspirational winners. They are listed below with extracts from their nominations:
Claire Defries, VN Programme Leader at the College of Animal Welfare
Claire was instrumental in developing online training virtually overnight when the national lockdown was announced in order to support vet nurses in training and to enable third year students to sit their finals. She was also commended for the pastoral support she has provided to students during lockdown.
Ellie Tappenden, Albyn Veterinary Centre, Broxburn
Ellie has been working long shifts before delivering regular medicines and ensuring that self-isolating clients are coping. She also created a local support network with other vets and organised a collection of spare PPE for the local hospital. She achieved this while managing her pain from Ehlers Danlos, a degenerative disease which she fights every day.
Tammy Jarvis, RSPCA Block Fen Animal Centre, March
Tammy was nominated for the exceptional support she has provided to all 105 patients at the RSPCA centre and the veterinary surgeon. With other staff furloughed, she has also taken on additional duties, including maintenance and grounds management, and has recently started sewing facemasks for the team.
Bethany Lavill, Etwall Vets, Derby
Bethany was nominated for the wide range of additional duties she has taken on, including collecting animals from owners who are self-isolating; coming in after hours to check up on in-patients and supporting bereaved clients. She has gone over and above the call of duty on many occasions and still asks what more she can do to help.
Shannon Mills, Leeds Colton Vets4Pets
Despite a recent diagnosis of epilepsy, student vet nurse Shannon has been a major asset to the team over the last few months. She has willingly covered a range of roles and recently nursed a critical care rabbit throughout the day, whilst manning reception. She even managed to pass her mock exam with flying colours during lockdown with little time to study.
Each of the five winners was rewarded with a Betty’s Gift Box, brimming with treats, including Betty’s champagne truffles, chocolate desires, Yorkshire tea and shortbread.
Commenting, Animalcare Product Manager James Beaumont said: “We wanted our competition to highlight the fantastic contribution vet nurses around the country are making to their colleagues, clients and patients – but the number and quality of entries hugely exceeded our expectations.
“At such a difficult time, the positivity, passion and care that each nomination exuded made reading them a moving experience and selecting only five as winners was no easy task. We thank all those who took the time to nominate their amazing colleagues and thank every vet nurse who was nominated for their extraordinary commitment and dedication.”
Since 1988, Animalcare has been committed to leading in animal health through innovative and trusted products and services to support the veterinary profession. They offer a wide range of animal health products, pet welfare products, practice equipment and identichip® and identibase® - helping reunite lost pets with their owners. They take pride in delivering outstanding customer service and responsiveness to customer needs.
A sustainable and passionate organisation, they care about the well-being of animals and the positive impact that healthy animals have on their owners and society.
It is no secret that the United Kingdom has a love for animals - almost 50% of households own at least one or more of the nation's 50 million pets; from everything with no legs to four legs, hooves or claws, beaks, scales, fins or shells.
The most common pets in the UK are cats and dogs (over 20 million), with rabbits coming in third (1 million) and then everything from indoor birds, guinea pigs and gerbils, ferrets and hamsters, rats and mice, tortoises and turtles, lizards and snakes, and horses and ponies making up the rest of the UK’s pets.
Unfortunately, some pets and animals are abandoned every day due to ill health, behaviour issues, or by owners who can no longer care for them. It is estimated that around 250,000 animals will end up in rescue centres each year - whether they are surrendered, abandoned or breed as strays on the streets.
Although rescue and rehoming centres do not have any operational regulations set by the government, there are a large number of charities and organisations that provide the best possible veterinary care, husbandry and welfare needs to the animals. The care of the animals is usually provided in a shelter setting or in a foster home environment, but they all must provide a duty of care that is outlined in the Animal Welfare Act 2006, covering the:
The Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADHC) is a not for profit organisation that aims to improve welfare standards in rescue and rehoming centres across the UK by providing a Minimum Welfare and Operational Standard that must be adhered to. A list of rehoming centres and charities who are members of the ADHC can be found here.
In this blog, we take a look at a few of the biggest animal welfare and rehoming centres in the UK. It can help the veterinary team direct potential pet owners to them when they are looking for their next furry (or scaly!) friend.
Founded in 1891 and now with over 21 rehoming centres throughout the UK and Ireland, they care for over 15,000 dogs per year (and most are rehomed!) - the most out of any other centre. They have a strong focus on training and behaviour as this is the biggest reason dogs are put up for rehoming.
Dogs Trust also provides a large amount of resources for new dog owners - covering everything from young puppies to rehoming older dogs, and even how to make an everyday walk fun during Covid when they should be walked on leads.
With around 500 dogs currently looking for their forever home, the dogs available for adoption can be found on their website via a search function which selects one suitable to the adopters location, if there are children in the household, and the size and age of the dog.
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home
They are the oldest rescue centre in the UK having been founded over 160 years ago, and in this time they have rehomed over 3 million dogs and cats. In 2019, it cost £55,000 per day to look after the dogs and cats in their care with most of their donations coming from fundraising, corporate income, gift aid and donations people have left in their will.
At any one time across the 3 rehoming centres in South-East England, there are almost 250 dogs and 150 cats being cared for by Battersea.
The Battersea website has a very easy to navigate website of dogs and cats available for adoption which gives a description of their personality and housing needs.
Founded over 100 years, Blue Cross is a charity that “provides support for pet owners who cannot afford private veterinary treatment, helps to find homes for unwanted animals, and educates the public in the responsibilities of animal ownership”. They care for over 40,000 pets every year.
It was originally formed to care for working horses in London during the late 18th century, and then went on to help sick cats and dogs, horses and small animals through their 12 rehoming centres and 4 veterinary hospitals throughout the UK. The veterinary hospitals provide treatment to those pets where their owner cannot afford private veterinary treatment.
Blue Cross also gives medals to both people and animals for bravery or heroism - the medal most recently went to a Papillon Cross called ‘Lily-Rose’ who saved her owner from choking to death, and also by notifying her owner that someone in the household had had a heart attack. Back in 1941, a “Great Dane with a Great Bladder” was given the award when ‘Juliana’ urinated on a bomb dropped into a house during World War 2, and another dog called ‘Jake’ received the Blue Cross medal in 2006 after working as an explosives dog during the 2005 London Bombings.
They also operate a Pet Bereavement Support Service where pet owners who are “grieving for the loss of a pet, whether through death, parting or enforced separation” can talk to someone about how to cope with this loss - in one year over 8000 calls were made to the support line.
On the Blue Cross website there are a number of cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and rats available for adoption.
The mission of the RSPCA is to prevent cruelty, promote kindness to and alleviate suffering of animals through a team of over 400 people who are RSPCA inspectors, animal welfare officers, and animal collection officers.
Across the UK, there are 4 animal hospitals and 5 clinics which provide veterinary treatment to those who cannot afford private veterinary care. There are also 4 wildlife centres which took in over 17,000 animals during 2019. They also provide information on what to do if someone has found injured wildlife and where to take them.
There are over 17 regional rehoming centres throughout England and Wales, where over 40,000 cats, dogs and horses were available for adoption in just one year. All animals available for adoption can be found here, and it is one of a few websites that lists reptiles and farm animals that need a new home.
As the UKs leading cat welfare charity, they rehomed over 41,000 cats last year and reunited over 2000 cats with their owners after being lost. There are 37 centres and 230 branches throughout the UK.
Cats available for adoption can be found on their website where the search criteria can be filtered if they can live with other cats or dogs, children, or if they can live indoors or outdoors.
The UK Kennel Club
The Find A Rescue section on the Kennel Club website has a search function specific to searching for rescue and rehoming centres for specific breeds of dogs. It is not regulated by the Kennel Club, so those who wish to adopt from the rehoming centres listed should still make their own enquiries about their reputability.
Volunteering and Donations
All of the organisations listed above rely on donations, memberships or volunteering to fund the rehoming or veterinary treatments. You can pass on the website to anyone who wants to help make a difference in animal welfare, even if they cannot adopt a pet themselves!
It is no secret that living a healthy and active lifestyle is full of benefits. It reduces the chances of developing major illnesses like heart disease or diabetes, it boosts self-esteem, improves sleep quality and energy levels, it helps lower the risk of depression and it also has anti-anxiety effects.
Our everyday job as Veterinary Nurses keeps us pretty active - we run around the practice all day, spend time walking patients outside, rush back and forth from the wards to the prep room, and we are pretty quick at cleaning and turning around the theatre in minutes! Without even realising, all of this counts towards the healthy goal of 10,000 steps a day - an easy 5 miles!
So, what other ways can you fit in more endorphin-releasing exercise into an already busy day?
â If you get public transport to work, get off one stop earlier
â Split your lunch break into two parts by eating during the first half of your break and walking around the neighbourhood in the second half
â Set a “move” alarm or reminder on your phone for specific times during the day - you could even add in some squats while monitoring in anaesthesia!
â Organise an after work walk or yoga in the park with your co-workers, like “Lets Walk Wednesday”
â Everyone takes a 5-minute team break for “Lunch time Lunges”
If you usually spend your breaks at work reading a book or catching up on a TV series to take your mind off work, you could always listen to a Podcast or an Audiobook instead while you go for a walk to get some fresh air.
How much exercise should I be doing?
The NHS recommends that adults do 150 minutes a week of a “moderate intensity workout” like brisk walking or riding a bike - that is only 20 minutes a day! Or 75 minutes of “vigorous intensity activity” a week like jogging or running, swimming, riding a bike fast or up hills, walking up the stairs, or using a skipping rope - this is only 10 minutes a day, or 25 minutes three times a week.
A fun and structured way to start running is the Couch to 5K challenge, and as a 5km run takes around 30-40 minutes, you’re halfway to completing a week's worth of exercise!
It is also recommended that at least 2 days a week some strengthening activities which work all the major muscle groups like the legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms are done. It is likely you do this already as it includes carrying heavy shopping bags, yoga, pilates, lifting and carrying children or animals, using resistance bands, or doing exercises that use your own body weight like push-ups and sit ups.
From the couch, to 5kms!
The NHS’s Couch to 5K is designed for absolute running beginners and takes 9 weeks to complete. The running plan involves a mix of running and walking for 3 running days a week with a day’s break in between, and you do something different every week. It is set with completely achievable time targets to build up your confidence, fitness and stamina.
The Couch to 5K is downloadable as a Podcast to your mobile which instructs you when to run and when to walk after planning your 5km route.
Fitness Videos and Centres
Even with fitness centres opening in the next few weeks as lockdown restrictions ease, you may still prefer to exercise at home - and it saves time getting to and from the gym!
Have you seen these free exercise Youtube Channels:
â HASfit - Free and fast-paced HIIT workouts
â Blogilates - Pilates with no equipment and videos for beginners
â Jessica Smith TV - Full cardio and bodyweight exercises, feat. a cute French Bulldog
â Fitness Blender - Workouts between 10-60 minutes long
â Yoga With Adriene - One of the original Youtube yogis, there is something for everyone
So, what are you waiting for? Exercise is free, easy to start, has many health benefits - and best of all, the effects are immediate!
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) will be holding a series of free online ‘Reflection Time’ sessions over the coming months. These facilitated sessions aim to help veterinary professionals reflect on the emotional aspects of their work in a safe, confidential online space.
The series will be facilitated by Mind Matters Manager Lisa Quigley and each monthly theme will have afternoon and evening sessions (taking place 12.30pm to 1.30pm and 7.30pm to 8.30pm respectively) to ensure that it can be accessed by people with different working and/or caring responsibilities.
The themes and timings are as follows:
· Support from my team – Wednesday 29 July
· Everyday leadership – Thursday 20 August and Thursday 27 August
· Juggling it all – Thursday 17 September and Thursday 24 September
· A lesson learned – Thursday 22 October and Thursday 29 October
· Believing in myself – Thursday 19 November and Thursday 26 November
In addition to the Reflection Time sessions Lisa Quigley will also be hosting a free series of informal online ‘Lunchtime Learning’ sessions in which she will give an overview of Mind Matters activities and how to get involved. Broader issues around mental health and wellbeing in the professions will also be covered. Each session starts at 12.30pm and will take place on:
· Friday 31 July
· Friday 28 August
· Friday 25 September
· Friday 30 October
· Friday 27 November
Lisa Quigley commented: “The Mind Matters Reflection Time sessions are an excellent opportunity for members of the profession to take themselves away from their clinical day-to-day work, and to pause and reflect on the more emotional aspects of themes such as support, leadership, work-life balance and learning culture. All members of the practice team are welcome, including veterinary and veterinary nursing students.
“The feedback that we had from the previous sessions was very positive, with many saying they valued the opportunity to share and reflect on their experiences in a safe space. I look forward to hearing the reflections of members of the profession about these important topics and helping them to integrate their insights into working life, as well as introducing people to the excellent work of the Mind Matters Initiative via the Lunchtime Learning sessions.”
Details on how to sign-up are available on the Mind Matters Initiative website at www.vetmindmatters.org/events/.
RCVS Knowledge is inviting educators and learners to join practitioners in entering the awards that recognise the use of continuous quality improvement (QI) principles.
The Knowledge Awards, now in their third year, celebrate the achievements of individuals and teams who are championing the use of QI methodology in their area of work.
The awards are open to anyone who works within the veterinary industry. This includes all those working in a practice setting, encompassing the administration team, veterinary nurses, practice managers or surgeons at all levels.
New this year, educators and learners from under- and post-graduate education are also encouraged to apply or nominate others for their inspiring work to enhance the awareness and development of QI skills in the veterinary and veterinary nursing professions.
Pam Mosedale, Chair of the RCVS Knowledge Quality Improvement Advisory Board, explained: “We have introduced a new category to the Knowledge Awards this year. As well as inviting applications from those who are using QI methodology in a practice setting, we are including a new category that acknowledges the crucial contribution those in education make to embedding QI in the professions.
“Eligible applications to this new category could take the form of students using QI methodology as part of their education, such as clinical audits, drawing up clinical guidelines, or other techniques. Educators should demonstrate how they are teaching QI methodology to better equip students for practice. We encourage anyone undertaking high-quality activity in this area to enter.”
The Knowledge Awards aim to recognise individuals and teams who are focusing on driving continuous improvements for better outcomes for patients, better service provision to clients, an improved business or environmental case, or better working conditions for the team. Applicants will be assessed on their passion for QI, and for encouraging and championing QI.
Winners will be crowned ‘Knowledge Champions’ or ‘Champion Practices’. Winners will receive a £250 reward, tickets to the awards ceremony and the opportunity to work with RCVS Knowledge to further promote their Quality Improvement work.
Applications can be made as an individual or as part of a team. Colleagues can nominate others for the award. The deadline for nominating colleagues is 16th October 2020, and the deadline for applications (whether you have applied directly or have been nominated) is 30th November 2020. Winners will be announced in early 2021.
The winners of the 2020 Knowledge Awards were recognised for a variety of QI activity, including an audit and updated guidelines that reduced post-operative complications by half; creation and use of a surgical safety checklist that reduced serious surgical errors; a whole-team approach to QI initiatives that led to effective audits, guidelines and checklists; and national auditing of pain relief guidelines, cruciate surgery outcomes and incident reporting.
Chris Gush, Executive Director of RCVS Knowledge, said: “We set up the Knowledge Awards not only to reward those behind the committed and innovative QI work going on across the professions, but also as a means to share effective approaches widely in order to support the advancement of the quality of care provided to patients.
“We are looking forward to learning more about excellent QI work taking place and giving this the acknowledgement it deserves.”
Find out more about the Knowledge Awards and how to apply at: rcvsknowledge.org/qi-awards
The VN Futures Board met virtually on Friday 3 July to discuss the progress of the project and plans going forward. Understandably, progress has been slowed during the COVID-19 pandemic however, there has still been behind-the-scenes work taking place, with plenty to discuss.
VN Futures Project Manager Jill Macdonald gave an update on progress which included the release of the final webinar in the VN Futures series on the value of veterinary nursing. All three webinars in the series are fantastic and I would highly recommend taking the time out to watch them, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all three speakers; Louise Northway RVN, Stephanie Writer-Davies MRCVS and Gillian Page RVN for their brilliant work and support of the VN Futures project.
Another exciting development has been the launch, in May, of a dedicated VN Futures website where the work of the project is showcased along with news, upcoming events and resources such as career case studies. We hope that you take the time to look at all the content the website has to offer, take inspiration from it and be inspired to get involved in the project.
The Board also discussed plans for the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) This is Us 2020 online event, where we will be holding several sessions to allow you to give your views on current topics affecting the veterinary nursing profession. This is your opportunity to have your say so please register – details will be available soon.
You can read the full article on the VN Futures website here.
Updates on new board members at the BVNA;
Nikki Ruedisueli (BVNA's Head of Learning and Development) - Member of the VN Futures Executive Group.
Jo Oakden (BVNA's Junior Vice President) - Incoming Chair on the VN Futures Board.
This guidance has been updated in the light of revised Government advice (23.6.20) on Coronavirus to balance public health protection requirements and the need for businesses to keep working. There remains no evidence that pets are implicated in the transmission of Coronavirus to people and infection of the pet is unlikely, but that there is some risk of virus being carried by pets and their belongings. However the risk of transmission between infected clients and business staff remains and the disease status of the client, if known, will assist in risk assessment.
The status of a household is an important element of risk assessment. Clearly contact with an infected or self-isolating household carries a higher risk than with any other. The risk to the household of shielding or vulnerable people is greater and therefore requires more precautions. Because there is some possibility of the pet carrying virus between households it is appropriate to evaluate the risk in each circumstance to minimise the public health consequences. It is inevitable that the status of a household can change from one group to another and that the precautions suitable for the pet will change at the same time.
The simple precaution of washing hands for twenty seconds as frequently as possible should now be intrinsic in every activity. In this advice document it is assumed that hand washing and social distancing are intrinsic in all activities.
CFSG has produced a business handover protocol between people walking friends’ and neighbours’ dogs. The protocol should also be used when handing over dogs between a business and client.
You can read the full CFSG Animal Business Guidance Document here.
(Updated 4th July 2020 - This guidance is subject to change depending on Government advice).
If you have any ideas or experiences that you would like to share with us on how you are managing with a pet business during COVID-19, you can email us at email@example.com or contact us via our Facebook page.
Travelling with a cat can be stressful – but it doesn’t have to be! With a bit of preparation, the whole process can be straightforward and less stressful for both cat and owner. Here are some tips on travelling safely with your cat:
· Choose a strong and sturdy carrier that can be easily cleaned, a plastic top-loading is ideal. Do not be tempted to use a flimsy cardboard carrier, as these are easily damaged, and your cat could escape. This is particularly hazardous if your cat escapes whilst you are driving
· Place something absorbent in the bottom of the carrier, such as newspaper or a puppy training pad. This will make the carrier easier to clean should your cat soil itself during travel
· Use soft and familiar smelling bedding – this will help your cat feel less vulnerable during the journey. If you leave the carrier out between visits, make sure it has been washed down, and the bed changed to remove any unfamiliar smells
· Use pheromone therapy spray in the carrier 15 minutes prior to travel, this will help your cat feel more safe and secure if it’s feeling anxious
· Place a light fleece or towel over the carrier during the journey. This can help reduce exposure to novel sights, sounds and smells and allow your cat to feel more hidden, reducing anxiety. If your cat is particularly confident you can cover just half the carrier during travel. Make sure that there are still gaps for air to flow into the carrier
· If possible, do not feed your cat for a couple of hours before you travel, as this can help prevent vomiting during transportation. Cats can be affected by travel sickness, but they can also vomit if they feel distressed too
· Hold the carrier underneath as well by the handle for extra security during transportation from one location to another e.g. to the car. This is will help prevent excessive movement, reducing feelings of anxiety and nausea
· Place the carrier in the foot-well behind the passenger seat. This is safer than putting it on the passenger seat as there is less movement
· If the carrier must go on the front seat, place the seat belt through the handle rather than around the front of the carrier. This will help prevent the seat belt crushing the carrier in the event of an accident. The airbag should also be turned off if a pet travels on the front seat of the car
· Drive slowly and carefully, avoiding excessive breaking
· Avoid using strong air fresheners or smoking in the car
· Try and make your journey when the roads are less busy (so not in rush hour)
· Have nice soft music playing in the car (such as classical or specific kitty music!)
· Try not to be distracted by your cat whilst you are driving
*If you have a cat that becomes very distressed during travel speak to your vet for advice*
Alex Taylor, RVN & BVNA Council Officer
Three veterinary nursing students have won first prize in RCVS Knowledge’s Veterinary Evidence Student Awards 2020.
The winners were the first veterinary nursing students to place in the awards, which were launched by RCVS Knowledge last year to recognise and support students’ engagement with evidence-based veterinary medicine (EBVM) and its application into practice.
The winning Knowledge Summary was written by Carla Husband, Abbie McMillan and Lauren Sweeney, all studying veterinary nursing at the University of Bristol. The team highlighted the paucity of evidence regarding the impact of educational interventions on hand hygiene compliance in small animal environments, a highly relevant topic during the COVID-19 pandemic, and called for more research to be carried out to support hand hygiene compliance in the veterinary professions.
Carla said: “I feel so proud of myself and my co-authors for winning this competition. We worked very hard on making this Knowledge Summary the best it could be and can’t believe our hard work has paid off. I also feel very proud to represent the vet nursing profession and to come out of university with a published paper. To any vet nursing or vet students out there who are thinking of submitting to Veterinary Evidence, I say go for it! The more evidence we can contribute to our knowledge base, the better our profession can become.”
Lauren said, “It was really exciting as a Student Veterinary Nurse to be able to submit our work into this competition. I truly believe that the Veterinary Science evidence base should be continually built upon and I am so glad this competition allowed our Knowledge Summary to do so!
“This competition has allowed our work to be peer-reviewed and our findings heard. I recommend this experience to all students as it has emphasised that all members of the veterinary community should be contributing to evidence-based medicine!”
The team’s win underscores that an evidence-based approach can be embedded by all veterinary professionals.
Second place went to Laura Pratley, University of Liverpool vet student, whose paper asked: “In horses with osteoarthritis, is mesenchymal stem cell therapy more effective at managing lameness than intra-articular corticosteroids?”
Laura said, “I became interested in research and EBVM in the latter years of vet school and was worried I'd missed opportunities to get involved with research/studentships. So when I saw the Veterinary Evidence Student Awards, I really wanted to get involved and have found the whole process really rewarding!”
Lesca Sofyan, a Veterinary Medicine student at the University of Sydney in Australia, took third place, for her paper investigating whether Meloxicam is superior to Carprofen for reducing discomfort in dogs diagnosed with osteoarthritis. This is the first time an international submission has been recognised in the awards.
Lesca said: “I entered the Veterinary Evidence Student Awards when I wanted to share my results on my research. Patients and clients deserve to be provided the top standard of care, and Veterinary Evidence allows me to do so quickly, as I can always analyse the available evidence behind my decision and choices.”
The Veterinary Evidence Student Awards recognise the capability of undergraduate students to produce high-quality research, with all submissions subjected to the journal’s usual standards and peer-review process. The submissions for this year’s awards were of a high standard, with all deemed suitable for publication in RCVS Knowledge’s open access, peer-reviewed journal.
Peter Cockroft, Editor-in-chief of Veterinary Evidence, said, “I would like to thank all the students who submitted Knowledge Summaries for consideration in this year’s competition. Knowledge Summaries provide an important resource to bridge the gap between research and practice and we are grateful for the student body’s input in helping grow the evidence base.
“I would like to congratulate the award winners on their outstanding achievements. We hope the student authors who have either won or been accepted for publication will feel encouraged to continue to practise EBVM in their future careers.”
This will be Peter’s final year of involvement with the awards, as he is stepping down from his role as Editor-in-chief later this month after three years.
Chris Gush, RCVS Knowledge’s Executive Director, congratulated the winners, saying, “We are delighted to announce the winners of this year’s awards, who have provided a valuable contribution to the evidence base. The recognition of veterinary nursing, veterinary surgeon and international entries this year clearly demonstrates that EBVM can be practised effectively by all veterinary professionals.
“We make all our evidence-based resources and research available for free to students as well as qualified professionals, so that they can continue to draw on the latest evidence in their practice throughout their professional lives. We would like to extend our congratulations to this year’s winners, and wish our applicants great success in the future.”
The winning paper is available to read on the Veterinary Evidence website at: https://bit.ly/SAKSHandHygiene. The second and third place papers, along with the other submissions, will be published at a later date. The awards will be presented at the RCVS Day Honours and Awards virtual event in September.
The Veterinary Evidence Student Awards 2021 are now open to submissions. All undergraduates studying veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing, veterinary bioscience or bioveterinary science are eligible to apply.
Further information is available on the RCVS Knowledge website: http://bit.ly/VEstudentawards
Photographs of the winners are available on request.
International Cat Day takes place every 8th of August and this year custodianship has been passed to International Cat Care (iCatCare) – a not-for profit organisation which since 1958 has sought to improve the health and well-being of cats everywhere, working towards a world where each cat’s life experience is as good as it can be.
Cats are fast becoming the world’s most popular pet. They now outnumber pet dogs in the UK, are on track to do so in China, and their global population is estimated to be as high as 600 million. Their popularity isn’t just about numbers – they’ve taken over much of the internet and charmed their way into almost every aspect of popular culture.
There’s no denying that cats make us happy – they intrigue and delight, and for International Cat Day we want the feeling to be mutual.
But do we really know what happiness means to a cat?
The secret to a Happy Cat is understanding each cat’s needs, both as an individual and a species. While some are ideally suited to living as pets, half the world’s cat population are not and these 300 million unowned cats lead a range of lifestyles, including those who will never accept human contact, no matter how much love and attention we might give them. And somewhere between the domestic and the feral is the growing phenomenon of the so called ‘Inbetweener’ whose needs are currently the least understood.
International Cat Day celebrates them all and the people who make their lives better.
Charities, specialists, veterinary professionals and volunteers come together on the day to share their knowledge and passion with cat-lovers from all around the world. So why not join them on August 8th and be a part of the #HappyCat movement.
To check out the programme and register for news and updates visit; www.internationalcatday.org
The UK’s largest membership body for the veterinary profession is calling on the government to set out changes to pet travel rules as soon as possible to help vets manage demand from pet owners.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA), which represents over 18,000 vets across the UK, said that owners may have to consult their vet at least four months ahead of trips to ensure that their cat, dog or ferret has had all the necessary vaccines, checks and documentation issued ahead of travel after the end of the transition period. Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has announced a new campaign today to help the UK prepare for the end of the transition period and will be making a speech this afternoon.
From 1 January 2021, requirements may change depending on whether the UK is granted Part 1 or Part 2 listed status or if it is unlisted. In an unlisted country scenario, pets need to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies, and have a blood test at least 30 days following the vaccination. Owners will then need to wait a further three months from the date the successful blood sample was taken before they can travel with their pet. They will also need an animal health certificate setting out the details of the test and results issued by an Official Veterinarian prior to travel.
Speaking to the Today Programme on Radio 4 this morning (Monday 13 July), BVA President Daniella Dos Santos said: “In order for owners to take their pets abroad, they need to start thinking about it now. If we end up being an unlisted country cats, dogs and ferrets need to have a rabies vaccine. We then need to wait thirty days and take a blood test, then provided the test comes back as a positive titre result you then have to wait three months from the date of sampling to be able to travel freely. In all, that’s a four-month leeway period. If you are thinking of travelling after the transition period ends, I would suggest that you need to speak to your vet soon.”
Ms Dos Santos also warned that it may take longer for owners to get an appointment for your pet, as vets are following strict social distancing requirements to keep colleagues and clients safe during the Covid-19 pandemic, and some staff remain on furlough. She said: “The challenge will be that vet visit. The profession is still reeling, as everyone is, from the effects of Covid and it will take you longer to get an appointment. You will absolutely get an appointment, but it just may not be as soon as it would have been before Covid. We are asking the Government to let the veterinary profession know as soon as possible what we need to do.”
In a Part 1 or Part 2 scenario, pets would need to be vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days ahead of travel and have tapeworm treatment if required. A Part 2 scenario would also require for an Animal Health Certificate to be issued no more than ten days ahead of each time you travel.
The Government guidance on pet travel to Europe from 1 January 2021 is available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pet-travel-to-europe-after-brexit.
We're very pleased to announce the results of the 2020 BVNA council elections today.
We have six new full Council members and one new student Council member and look forward meeting them later in the year.
Fourteen candidates stood for full membership and the following members were elected:
· Lyndsay Hughes
· Charlotte Pace
· Lacey Pitcher
· Laura Richards
· Laura Rosewell
· Craig Tessyman
Molly Vallance was appointed, uncontested as a student member.
BVNA President Jo Hinde said:
“2020 continues to be a year of curveballs and resulted in an interesting conundrum for our council elections. For the first time in BVNA history, there was a tie for the final council seat! On Sat 11th July, during the main council meeting, the full council were presented with the Anonymized manifestos of the 2 tied candidates and each council member voted for their preferred candidate.
This was an unprecedented situation for us and I’m very pleased that we were able to resolve the issue in a fair and timely manner. I would like to thank all of the 296 members for taking the time to vote and I am very much looking forward to meeting our newly elected council members soon”
Katie Spackman, Head of Membership & Events, BVNA said:
“We’re delighted to see the number of nominations for the 2020 elections increase by 100% from last year. During the online event ‘Meet the Candidates’ I was really impressed by the professionalism and the passion of each candidate and of the content of their manifestos. I look forward to working with the new council members to continue to build our reputation as the Voice of Veterinary Nursing.”
If you're interested in a volunteers role at BVNA, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the difference between a job and a career? The difference is all in your attitude.
A job is work you do in return for a paycheck, moving from place to place with no real plan - but what if you had taken on specific roles and education, with long term goals you wanted to achieve in something you were passionate about? Well, now you have a career!
Veterinary Nurses are known to be passionate and driven by challenge, often wanting a career that makes them feel fulfilled when working with people and animals. So, how can you take the lead in following your Veterinary Nursing passion and be supported in it?
If You Don't See A Door, Build One
Be proactive and make a career plan to reach your goal:
1. Start by writing down your previous roles, the experiences you gained and the skills you learnt. This is a good way to take a step back and reflect on everything you have already achieved in your career.
2. Next, write down a few things you are passionate about - there may be some things that align.
3. Write down your ultimate goal (no matter how crazy you think it sounds!).
4. Working backwards, step by step, write how you think you can achieve them, both personally and in the workplace. It may involve additional CPD or training, working alongside a mentor, or visiting different places to gain experience. Spider diagrams are a great way to get all your ideas out, and then connect them up.
For example, maybe your ultimate goal is to run an effective weight loss clinic for dogs, spending a couple of days a month managing a weight loss clinic, becoming a weight loss advocate and the “go-to person” in your practice. You could start by searching all dogs by BCS in the practice software
> with the list, a target email could be sent to them to introduce a nurse consult and support bulk package for the client (including 6 months’ worth of food and nurse consult fees)
> contact a pet food company that may be interested in providing free samples and marketing materials
> help strengthen the client to practice bond by arranging one day a fortnight week catch ups and weigh ins
> arrange a Saturday morning dog walking group in the local area so clients can get together and support each other in their pets weight loss, or make a private weight loss forum on the practices social media account.
5. Now with your plans on what you want to achieve, arrange a meeting with your manager. Lead the meeting and discuss what your career goals are, how you think you can achieve them, how you would like the practice to support you, and how it will ultimately support the practice. Leave the meeting with some action points and ask if you can have another meeting in a few weeks’ time. Remember, you are the project leader here.
6. Finally, work on some of those action points, no matter how small they seem! They are part of the foundations to a much bigger picture.
Remember to work out a plan to manage your time effectively. As exciting as new projects may be, try to set a certain amount of time to spend on it in a day or week so you can switch off and enjoy things outside of work.
Progression in the Profession
Excitingly, VN futures – a collaboration between BVNA and RCVS VN Council, is working across the entire industry to promote the future for Veterinary Nursing. They work to review and propose ideas to develop leadership programmes and support veterinary practices to encourage career development on their vision of ‘Taking charge of our future together’. They have 6 key aims to achieve this:
1. Creating a sustainable workforce2. Structured and rewarding career paths3. Confident, resilient, healthy and well-supported workforce4. Proactive role in One Health (working with human and environmental sciences)5. Maximising nurses’ potential6. A clarified and bolstered VN role via a reformed Schedule 3
Today and Tomorrow's Veterinary Nurses
In 2019, the RCVS conducted a survey of Veterinary Nurses, gathering information on demographics, roles and job satisfaction. They received over 5000 responses from those still working in the industry and those who are not. Some of the findings were:
â Only 72% of VNs said they will stay in the industry for more than 5 years
â The top 5 reasons that those who wanted to leave, were because of:
So what does the study show? Veterinary nurses want to work with animals and they want to make a difference, however they feel frustrated with the opportunities (or lack thereof!) in front of them.
Your future is in your hands!
There are many opportunities to find your niche within the Veterinary Nursing profession, and they can lead you in many exciting directions if you follow your passion - like working in a clinical environment, taking on a management role, contributing to conservation or working in charities overseas.
What are you waiting for? Start following your passion and be proud of the profession you always wanted to work in.
And to finish with something inspirational - “a dream becomes a goal when action is taken towards its achievement” - Bo Bonnet
Samantha Payne RVN, BVNA Council Member and representative on the RCVS Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, talks about diversity and Pride in London.
“Saturday June 27th, the streets of London should have been filled with hundreds of thousands of people celebrating Pride in London, but this year we’re having to find new ways to celebrate together. Many virtual Prides are being organised by friends, associations and groups across the country.
Celebrating diversity and inclusion is always important and we’re reminded of the importance of raising awareness when we see the continued attacks on the trans community - highlighting the need for further education and greater allies.
In 2019 Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons [RCVS] formed the Diversity and Inclusion Working Group [DIWG], created to ensure a focused approach moving on the issue. The aim of DIWG is to help continue breaking down the barriers in place in the selection, recruitment and retention of veterinary professionals, and to encourage more diversity within the profession. DIWG recognise there are many factors within the complex issue of diversity and inclusion and there is a long road ahead.
The Group continues to meet regularly to gather further information on where the profession is today, where we need to get to and also where we need to get to in the future.”
Samantha goes on to express her feelings on being a transgender veterinary nurse:
“Pride has a very personal meaning for myself. Being one of few transgender veterinary nurses in the profession, I aim to be out, and I am proud of my journey to where I am today.
I am a trans veterinary nurse and very aware of those in the profession who may need to see other members of the LGBT+ community before they feel they can be out themselves. There are far too many veterinary nurses who are not able to be out at home, let alone within the practice because of prejudices and fear of discrimination.”
What about the BVNA and support from other organisations? Samantha says…
“BVNA has a history of diversity but my hope for the future would be to increase diversity in terms of LGBT+ and BAME and my involvement in RCVS DIWG will help to increase the impact of BVNAs diversity and inclusion practices going forward.
Progress is made when different people with different experiences and backgrounds come together: we educate each other, we learn and grow. British Veterinary LGBT+ are a veterinary association that was created in 2016 to help the profession with education on LGBT+ issues within the work place and to celebrate diversity. Their continued aims are for better education at all levels from teaching to out in the work place. You can find them on Facebook and a new website will be online soon.”
Article written by Samantha Payne RVN, BVNA Council Member.
In this day and age, social networking at our fingertips - does that mean your next career move is too?
Whether you’re looking for a new role in a new practice, wanting to venture into other industry related businesses, or even if you are happy in your current job, creating and maintaining an effective digital profile means you won’t let any exciting opportunities slip by!
The daunting task of job hunting used to involve flicking through newsletters or clicking through recruitment sites, preparing and updating a CV, applying for roles and then going through the interview process. But now in this progessive world, imagine an employer or recruiter reaching out to you? What if they could see your up-to-date achievements and strengths, and what if they could contact you directly to offer you a role they think you’re suitable for?
By using social media and networking, employers now have an opportunity to get a more three-dimensional view of who you are when applying for a role. So make it count - you are your own brand! Let’s take a look at how a digital profile lets you showcase your talent.
Free Online Event
The BVNA is proud to host a webinar on how to create a professional digital profile to help you take control of your career.
“The Virtual Future of Veterinary Nursing Careers” online event takes place on Wednesday, 1st of July at 7pm and you can register for free here.
It will cover:
â How to set up a LinkedIn profile and maximise it for yourself
â Learning how to be heard and seen in a virtual world
â Discovering how to create opportunities for yourself
â Exploring how to balance your own opportunities against loyalty to those who have given you chances
Our speaker, Dr Ben Sweeny, is a veterinary surgeon who is fueling a recruitment revolution through his agency “Simply Locums”. BVNA Vice President Wendy Nevins joins us too.
Linkedin is like a professional Facebook. There are profiles to view for both people and businesses; connections can be made, post can be shared and commented on, and there is a newsfeed to scroll through.
Your Linkedin profile is a modern-day CV and recruiters (whether they’re an agency or part of HR in a practice) will see your name, current job title and workplace, a summary about yourself, as well as your experience and where you have worked before.
Most recruiters use Linkedin to canvas CVs and stay ahead of the hiring-game by finding the best candidates for their customers.
â Profile Picture - this should be a professional looking headshot. You want to look approachable too, so smile! Avoid selfies and cropped group photos. You can even have a colleague take one of you in your scrubs with your stethoscope.
â About - this is where first impressions count, and you’re allowed to brag! Here you can briefly describe your success and progression in the industry, your career highlights, what your passions are, and what you are working towards professionally.
â Featured - here you can share a few links and documents of things you have written or presented, or even photos of some work you have done. It's a visual showcase.
â Background - this is similar to a CV where previous employment is listed and the tasks undertaken. You can use your previous job descriptions to help with the wording. This is also where you can list where you’ve studied and volunteered. There are often alumni pages for educational centers and it may help to open up your connections to people you previously studied with.
â Skills and Endorsements - in this section you list the skills you have, and colleagues or those who have worked with you previously can endorse these. Think of them as your referees on your CV, they are vouching for you! Skills could include; anaesthesia, surgical nursing, customer service.
â Accomplishments - this is similar to the featured section, but this lists everything you have achieved. It might be publications you have, projects you’ve worked on, any awards you have received, and even the languages you speak. In this section, use a lot of keywords to make your profile appear in the top of searches; veterinary, nurse, RVN, SVN, RCVS, animal, pet, vet
â Permalink - this is changing the website link from a series of default numbers, to something tidier and memorable e.g. www.linkedin.com/yournameRVN
Many veterinary practices and businesses have a Linkedin page that you can follow. You can see their latest news and updates (new CT machine, maybe?), postings of new roles, and they may share some staff achievements or publications. It means you can start connecting by liking their posts, commenting on it, or sending a private message.
It’s not just about making contact with businesses too. Other organisations and charities use Linkedin to generate interest on what they stand for, and when you follow them it can show others what is important to you too.
Facebook and Instagram
These platforms are usually used as a private and personal platform, as well as businesses or organisations.
You can use it to join and follow veterinary groups and pages, and to make comments and share posts, which helps break the ice to start conversations - if there is a particular place you want to work, follow them on Facebook and engage them through commenting on their posts or send them a private message.
Although it is a personal platform where you can share things with your friends and family, there are some drawbacks which may include inappropriate posts on personal issues or professional information which can be seen by potential employers if the privacy settings are public. The RCVS also have social media guidance on what is appropriate to post, which can be read here.
To see what is public on your Facebook profile, go to your profile page and click the ‘eyeball’, or the ‘view as’ button and select ‘public’. If there are any posts you would like to restrict from the public setting, then click the ‘world’ icon and select ‘friends only’. If you want to make all previous posts private (friends only) then go to the Facebook Settings and Privacy tab > Privacy Shortcuts > See More Privacy Settings > Under ‘Your Activity’ selected ‘Limit Past Posts”.
On Instagram, simply go to the settings tab, click privacy and change your profile to private.
On Twitter, you can share an informal side of your professional personality by tweeting and retweeting opinions and posts about your interests and passion within the veterinary industry.
You can also learn about an employer’s culture and values! They may share some non-veterinary posts like them making their tea-room a 100% recyclable zone, and this may align with your personal ethos too.
With Twitter, you can also follow hashtags that are important to you, which can open up new businesses or organisations to follow.
So where to start on this new modern-day adventure?
Start by doing a ‘spring clean’ and googling yourself.
The internet can be a big archive box for everything you’ve ever uploaded, commented on or liked. Click through a few search pages to see if there is any content you don’t want future employers to see (like commenting on a forum with bad language about a parking ticket issued a few years ago!). You’ll be able to see what's lurking in the background and still shows up when you are searched, and then you can work through the sites to delete or hide them.
Then secondly, register for our webinar here to get started on your digital future.
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) 177th Annual General Meeting will be the first to be held virtually in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the associated government guidance on social distancing.
The Annual General Meeting will take place via a dedicated online platform on Friday, 10 July 2020 starting at 10am when RCVS Council will meet to approve the Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2019, welcome new members on to RCVS and Veterinary Nurses (VN) Councils and say farewell to retiring Council members. The AGM will also be Dr Niall Connell’s final occasion as RCVS President as he passes the reins to Dr Mandisa Greene, who will be invested as President for 2020-21.
The full agenda for the day is as follows:
· Welcome and opening remarks (10am)
· Annual Report and Statement of Accounts
· Answers to members’ questions on the Annual Report
· Council elections: new members and retirements
BREAK (11 – 11.10am)
· Council meeting to approve President, Vice-Presidents and Treasurer
· Address from RCVS CEO Lizzie Lockett
· Address from outgoing VN Council Chair Racheal Marshall
· Investiture of new Chair and Vice-Chair of VN Council [TBC]
· New VNC Chair’s remarks
· Address from outgoing RCVS President Dr Niall Connell
· Investiture of new President and Vice-Presidents
· New President’s remarks
· AGM closes (approximately 12 noon)
In normal circumstances, the AGM and Council meeting are followed by an Awards Ceremony in which guests and Members are given the opportunity to recognise and celebrate veterinary achievement, including via the RCVS programme of Awards & Honours. However, due to the pandemic, this part of the occasion has been separated from the Council business of RCVS Day and postponed until later in the summer.
Niall Connell, RCVS President, said: “This will certainly be a different kind of AGM from previous years and, while it is a shame that we will not be having our usual Awards Ceremony at the same time, I look forward to marking the achievements of our amazing professions in due course.
“I would, however, like to extend an invitation to all members of the RCVS and our veterinary nursing colleagues to ‘attend’ the event online, as there will still be plenty of interest taking place, including speeches and addresses highlighting the key achievements and milestones of the past year. We will also still be able to answer Members’ questions on the Annual Report & Statement of Accounts that have been submitted in advance.
“I am also particularly proud and delighted that I will be handing over my presidency to Mandisa, who will become the College’s first black President, making it a truly historic occasion.”
Veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses who wish to attend the AGM can do so by registering at the following webpage: www.rcvs.org.uk/agm2020
Questions from Members about the RCVS Annual Report and Financial Statements 2019 (available to view at www.rcvs.org.uk/publications) should be submitted in advance to Deborah Rowlanes at email@example.com, no later than 5pm on Monday, 6 July 2020.
Only questions directly related to the Annual Report and its contents can be answered at the AGM. Answers to similar questions may be collated on the day due to time limitations, however, individual answers to all questions will be published on the RCVS website following the AGM via www.rcvs.org.uk/agm2020.
Part one of this blog discussed the impacts that the COVID-19 precautions have on patient behaviour when visiting the veterinary setting. Part two will look at how veterinary professionals and clients can work together to improve the patients experience during their visit. This will help make the examination and treatment process more effective and potentially improve recovery rates.
How veterinary staff can help make visiting a more positive experience
The response of veterinary professionals to make patient visits a more positive experience can be undertaken with two separate approaches. The first approach looks at all of the implemented measures and how alterations can be made collectively to minimise their negative effects on the patients whilst keeping within the guidelines set out and without compromising the safety of staff and clients. The second approach looks at patients case by case, making it a more holistic approach.
Social distancing, PPE and the increased use of hand sanitisers and disinfectants are measures which cannot be altered due to health and safety implications. The use of practice cat carriers should also still be used for the same reason, they can however be set up and used in ways to improve the patient’s experience. The carriers should be sprayed with synthetic F3 pheromones (Feliway®), this should be done 15 minutes before use (Horwitz, 2018) to avoid aversive effects from the smell of the alcohol carrier evaporating (Rodan and Heath, 2015), transporting patients should be done in a calm, slow and smooth motion (Langley-Hobbs et al., 2014), carriers should be covered with a towel when being transported or when cats are not being handled (Rodan and Heath, 2015) and patients should still be examined in carriers where possible.
The way the veterinary environment is set up and the way in which veterinary professionals behave and interact with patients have a major impact on patient behaviour. By introducing as many of the examples set out in table one, patients should feel more comfortable during their visit.
Table 1: Human behaviour, patient interaction and environmental changes to help make visits to practice more positive.
â Eye contact should be avoided as it is threatening behaviour (Landsberg and Tynes, 2014) peripheral vision should be used instead (Dr Sophia Yin, 2017).
â Slow blinking at cats using peripheral vision is a friendly behaviour and builds trust (Langley-Hobbs et al., 2014).
â A gentle calm voice and use of reassuring words in a sighed breath have calmings effects on patients and staff (Langley-Hobbs et al., 2014).
â An upbeat tone can help motivate the patient to move (Landsberg et al., 2012) and maintains a hands off relaxed approach to handling.
â A calm demeanor is beneficial with slow and steady movements (Lawhead and Baker, 2017).
â Leaning over patients and reaching over their heads should be avoided as it can be threatening to them (Bassert and Thomas, 2014), instead approach from the side at their level (Hedges, 2014) whilst kneeling, squatting or sitting (Bassert and Thomas, 2014).
â The use of DAP and Feliway diffusers can help keep patients calm (Prydie and Hewitt, 2015), these can be placed in consult rooms, wards and other areas of the practice.
â Playing classical music at low levels in all areas of the practice helps to relax patients and staff, and acts as noise cancellation to other background noises (Tilley and Smith, 2016).
â Use rooms that have windows that patients can look out of, patients are often calmer when distracted by the outside world (Overall, 2013).
â Dim lighting is helpful in consult rooms and wards as overly bright rooms can cause arousal (Overall, 2013).
â Reduce animal and human traffic around patient areas to help maintain a calm environment.
The second case by case approach can be undertaken simply by asking clients questions tailored to the practice and to suit how the consultation will be conducted, the information can be gathered during the initial phone call if appropriate, as a courtesy call prior to the appointment, as an entry questionnaire or as an additional section on consent forms. Examples of questions include:
â Would they prefer to be seen by a male or a female veterinary surgeon?
â Is the pet comfortable with being handled/restrained for procedures?
â Is the pet comfortable with being picked up and placed on a table for examination?
â Is there anything in a general examination that they do not like (i.e. temperature being taken, paws being touched)?
â How are they socially around other cats, dogs and small animals?
The information gathered can then be used to tailor the consultation and their potential hospitalisation, to help the patient feel as comfortable as possible avoiding unnecessary situations that may normally be avoided with the client being present.
If veterinary practices undertake these approaches it will help to reduce the likeliness of patients displaying behaviours such as anxiety, stress, fear and nervousness, they are more likely to be in a calmer more relaxed state which will hopefully allow them to adjust to the new changes and cope with the situation.
How clients can help make visiting a more positive experience
Clients can help to make their patients visit to veterinary practice a more positive experience with help from their veterinary practice. Before visiting the veterinary setting clients should be reminded of the specific implemented changes that have been put in place at their practice, this should include what to do on arrival, how the consultation will be undertaken and how their animal will be taken from them if they have to be examined alone or if they have to be hospitalised. This information can be passed on to the client during their initial appointment booking if there is time and the situation allows or with a follow up courtesy call, general information regarding this should also be advertised on social media sites and emailed to clients as a preemptive measure too. Clients will feel more at ease armed with this knowledge as they will be prepared, rather than worrying and trying to anticipate the situation which in turn is likely to make them feel stressed or anxious with patients potentially mirroring these feelings. Other information that could also be passed on to clients to help the situation in general include the human behaviour alterations discussed in table one.
Clients could also undertake positive reinforcement training to help desensitise their pets to face masks prior to visiting the veterinary setting, this can be done in the home and when on walks. Figure one is an example of a training plan that could be sent directly to clients via email or post, or posted on practice social media accounts. The training plan should be continued during their visit to the vets with both clients and veterinary staff taking part - if appropriate to do so.
Figure 1 - Face mask training leaflet
By undertaking these steps clients can help veterinary professionals in providing improved conditions for patients to be examined in, which again reduces behaviours such as anxiety, stress, fear and nervousness.
There have been many changes that have been implemented since the COVID-19 pandemic which can affect how a patient behaves when visiting the veterinary setting, often causing them to be stressed, anxious or fearful. Alterations by veterinary practice and clients can be made together to make the patients visit a more positive one, in turn this can help them adapt to the way veterinary settings are now run making the examination, treatment and recovery process more effective.
Anthony Turner RVN, BSc (hons.) Applied Animal Behaviour and Training.
Anthony is a night RVN at Northwest Veterinary Specialists. He qualified in 2018 at an independent general practice where he had been working for four years. He also has a BSc (hons.) degree in applied animal behaviour and training which is a special interest of his. He has gained experience in this area from working at the RSPCA, running his own dog behaviour and training company and from his time in general practice where he also ran behaviour and training consults often taking on referrals from other local practices too.
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