A National Heroine
Nightingale returned home at the end of the war in 1856,exhausted and gaunt, weakened from a serious fever. While her fame had spread across England and beyond, determined to destroy her popular image, she never again worked as a nurse, never made a public appearance and never attended a public function. But in her vision, a new world order of healthcare was just beginning, and she was at the helm. Her healthcare advice was great in demand among those were the Queen of Holland and the Crown princess of Prussia. Nightingale gave extensive evidence and compiled an immense confidential report, covering the whole field of army medical and hospital administration, which was later privately printed as her Notes on Matters affecting Health, Efficiency and Hospital Administration of the British Army (1858). One consequence of the Commission's activities was the foundation of the Army Medical School in 1857, The Indian Mutiny in the same year turned Nightingale's interest to the health of the army in India, and for that purpose another royal commission was appointed in 1859. This resulted in 1868 in the establishment of a Sanitary Department in the India office with the supreme authority in India.
Nightingale had been engaged in pioneering activities. In 1860, she used the Nightingale fund to establish at Home for nurses at St Thomas's Hospital and the Nightingale School. The opening of the school marked the beginning of professional education in nursing. She also became involved in the training of nurses for work in workhouses that had been established as a result of the Poor Law amendment Act. Nightingale held strong opinions on women's rights. she argued strongly for the removal of restrictions that prevented Women from having careers in her book suggestions for Thought to searches after Religious Truths(1859). Nightingale was also strongly opposed to the passing of the Contagious Act. Nightingale preferred working behind the scenes to get laws changed and disapproved of women making speeches in public. In 1915, the Crimean monument in Waterloo Place, London, was erected in her honour.
Florence Nightingale's contributions to the evolution of nursing as a profession were invaluable. She received many honours from foreign governments and in 1907, she became the first woman to receive the British Order of Merit. Her writings include Notes on Nursing (1860), the first textbook for nurses, which was later translated to several languages. Other writings include Notes on Hospitals (1859) and Notes on Nursing for the Labouring Classes(1861).
It had never been shown that Florence Nightingale had any organic illness, her invalidism may have been partly neurotic and partly intentional. By this apparent startagem, she was able to devote herself night and day to the task at hand, Her sight gradually failed, until in 1901 she became completely blind. Florence Nightingale died in 1910.
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