What a year it has been for all of us! With optimism and a smile, we look forward to a more sociable year and a greater opportunity to support one another as well as our clients and customers, still with caution but with fewer barriers – both physically and metaphorically!

When the BVNA asked me to write this blog and told me the subject matter – ‘It should be about veterinary nursing and aligned with the theme of VNAM, which is sustainability, and the four pillars which are human, economic, environment and social’- I wasn’t really sure where to start if I’m honest. Having calculated my own huge carbon footprint only last week I had been thinking about sustainability a lot. I’ve also been talking to friends and local businesses, thinking about where we are with the most recent relaxation of COVID rules where I live in West Sussex, and looking forward to lunch in the pub garden this weekend, weather permitting. I talked to a whole variety of people, both veterinary related and otherwise and was reminded that for many, times are still very tough- for a variety of reasons.

This is also of course a time for reflection, with so many people’s lives having been changed forever due to the events of the past year. You may have lost loved ones yourself and experienced first hand the devastation brought by COVID. Loss of employment, income and social contact have been equally as devastating for many, and it’s important that we continue to ask our friends and colleagues, ‘Are you OK?’ and once again, ‘Are you really OK?’

We all recognise now that it’s OK to not be OK but asking for help or expressing personal struggles is hard. We also recognise that the veterinary profession is amongst the highest for individuals taking their own lives, so let’s all take care of one another and ensure we are all there for each other. Don’t just think it; show it, say it and live it. As nurses, we are carers – we recognise pain – it is in our nature to nurture and we want to help. It’s an attribute we should all be proud of, but don’t forget to look after yourselves too.

Hill’s is super proud to once again be sponsoring VNAM, and helping to raise the profile of nurses and the incredible work they do, and also to promote the importance of sustainability. We all have a role to play in doing all we can as individuals and also as workplace teams, to commit to deliver sustainability in everything we do.

The practice environment can often provide sustainability challenges, be that due to single use materials and disposal of various recyclable or non-recyclable items, not to mention energy and water use. We must all act now to accelerate action on climate change. This consideration is no longer a ‘nice to have’ attitude but is imperative for change.

As part of Colgate, ‘Building a future to smile about’ is our mantra and we strive to do all we can ourselves to promote sustainability as well as working with localised communities around the world to help to do the same. We leverage the power and potential of science, purposeful packaging and long-trusted brands to build a brighter future for people around the world. For Colgate, our company purpose and the value of our products are directly tied to how well we execute on sustainability. Especially now, as we focus on our health and homes in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the implications of our actions on climate and waste is that much more important and the call to action even louder.

We must all be committed to ensuring the wellbeing of those we serve, building a culture of inclusivity and creating meaningful opportunities for all people to succeed inside and outside of our families and workplaces.

We must all endeavour to empower people to develop healthier habits by choosing sustainable products that improve their lives and the lives of others and our planet. Thinking of the wider environments and lives above and below water.

We must all accelerate our action on climate change, and how we can reduce our environmental footprint, working together within the industry to eliminate waste, decrease plastic usage, save water and conserve natural resources.

This year, more than any other year, we must all make well-being a priority to ensure people can bring their best selves to work every day.

We must strengthen diversity, equality & inclusion in our workplaces and communities, ensuring that all feel they belong and are supported to achieve their potential and drive representation across our whole industry.

In 2021, now more than ever we must help young people, not only in our teams but also in our communities, thrive. Let us support under-represented communities and support students pursuing veterinary related careers.

A key focus for us at Hill’s is to help foster lifelong relationships between pets & people. We strive to help every pet find a forever home by supporting our global shelter partners with resources and premium nutrition. Our ambitious goal is to find adoption homes for 15 million shelter pets worldwide through the Hill’s Pet Nutrition Food, Shelter & Love program. Find out more here.

So smile. Now is the moment. Let’s join as nurses to reimagine a healthier future for all people, their pets and our incredible planet. Go nurses!