Well done and congratulations to all the winners of our 2021 RCN Nursing Awards!
We’re delighted to announce that the RCN Nurse of the Year 2021 is Nicola Bailey, from the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.
The special recognition award goes to Noel McDonald, also from the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.
The judges have shortlisted this specialist in learning disabilities and autism for her excellent use of advanced practice and demonstrable improvements for patient outcomes in a complex, medical-led area. Mental health and learning disability placement coordinator Heidi Emery ensures care is provided in the least restrictive environment and supports people through pathways from hospital to the community, despite continued COVID-19 restrictions. In recent years, 26 people have been discharged into the community, which has given them their lives back. Ms Emery has become the first non-medical approved clinician at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and is a member of its mental health law action group, providing a nursing perspective at the heart of this aspect of patient care.
The first nurse-led transport service in the UK and Ireland has transferred 450 children since January 2020. Previously, critical care teams transferred children from Northern Ireland to Dublin for life-saving specialist treatment but this team of nurses now deliver the service themselves. As it was ready to launch, the UK went into lockdown, but this did not prevent them developing patient information leaflets, staff posters and collaborating with a registrar to make a video for children to explain the service. Feedback from people using the service has been overwhelming positive and the team now completes other transfers for people requiring palliative care.
The hospital’s carers’ network and support group has been created by Joanne Shaw the Head of Nursing for Clinical services and Safeguarding following feedback from staff who have caring responsibilities for an elderly parent, unwell relative, partner or child outside of their duties at work. Caring can be an extremely demanding, tiring and talking to someone in a similar situation can help. The network provides a safe environment for staff to meet with others from all disciplines across the trust , discuss issues or just take time out from their caring responsibilities. We have the meeting at Lunchtime – with lunch provided by local charities and we have key note speakers and representative of the local carers centre who can also register staff as carers.
Many families felt their health visitor was less accessible during lockdown and evidence showed that children under the age of two suffered disproportionately high levels of harm. With no additional funding, Emma Carey implemented a low-cost, high-impact intervention for families during and after lockdown. Walk & Talk offered families the chance to meet each other and a local health visitor in green spaces, access support and improve their physical and mental well-being. She also curated a sustainable local community ‘breadline’ recipe book aimed at reducing issues associated with material deprivation and poor health. For every book sold, another was given to a family in need.
This team at Churchill Hospital has seen impressive results after its introduction of a mental well-being assessment for early phase trial patients to ensure they were receiving effective and holistic care from the start of their treatment. Responses from patients were very positive. Its implementation has led to numerous referrals to counselling and other services and it has improved communication between patients and staff, allowing them to broach subjects that may otherwise have been unaddressed. The team has streamlined its referral systems since introducing the assessment. Patient feedback has been positive and nurses feel well supported to discuss emotional topics with patients who have no other treatment options left.
RCN Nurse of the Year 2021
Regulations from the decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland came into effect as the UK went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. No local services had been planned or commissioned. Despite political resistance and protests, nurse manager Nicola Bailey was instrumental in setting up an early medical abortion service in Belfast while also converting community contraceptive clinics to telemedicine services, collaborating with medical, pharmacy and administrative staff as well as police and reproductive health charities. Clinic protocols and standard operating procedures were rapidly developed, drug cupboards acquired, legal paperwork organised and online consultation forms created. Special low-sensitivity pregnancy tests were sourced and ordered and patient information leaflets created. The rapid creation of these services ensured women in Northern Ireland had access to contraception and early medical abortions despite the restrictions of the pandemic.
In his own time, children’s nurse lecturer Rohit Sagoo has been building up stronger connections between healthcare services and the Sikh community. His campaigns to increase the number of Sikh people on stem cell and living donor registers have been a huge success. He has worked to raise awareness of organ donation and COVID-19 public information, particularly about vaccination, on Asian TV and radio channels, working in collaboration with the Department of Health and Social Care, the London Assembly and NHS Blood and Transplant. He delivers health and well-being advice in venues in the community, addressing mental health issues and reaching out to older members of the community who speak little English.
Rebecca Crossley’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic for people with learning disabilities and autism or severe and enduring mental health conditions has a 99.9% success rate. The learning disability and autism liaison nurse organised engagement events with people who would be using the service to ensure she got it right first time and that the people she vaccinated came back for their second dose. She found a room that could be adapted for sensory needs and a prescriber for those who required individual patient assessment. At time of entry to the RCN Nurse Awards, the service had vaccinated 242 people, some with severe needle phobias who previously had never had a vaccination. Only one person had been unable to receive the vaccine.
Mental health nurse and founding director of Jaya Mental Health João Marçal-Grilo realised there was little support available for people with mental health problems in South Asia with few mental health professionals working in cities and rural areas being isolated and lacking support. He launched the charity Jaya Mental Health in 2014 to link communities of nurses across the world to ensure they have access to training and mutual support to improve mental healthcare in their communities. The initiative’s success has resulted in official requests for more mental health clinics in remote areas and Jaya Mental Health being asked to advise on mental health provision in areas of South Asia.
Greenock Medical Aid Society’s meaningful visits team has been shortlisted for its creative and innovative approach to enabling meaningful visits by loved ones that were able to include physical contact during the pandemic when many care homes had a no physical contact policy for visits. Lead Andrea Wyllie drew up plans for a visiting pilot using rapid COVID-19 testing, risk assessments and protocols. Its success was recognised and replicated nationally. When a further lockdown was announced for Boxing Day in 2020, the team worked extra shifts to ensure everyone had a meaningful visit before it came into place and then lobbied the government to allow indoor visiting as soon as possible. As well as proving visits could be conducted safely, they were also shown to have a profound effect on the well-being of residents and relatives.
Third-year mental health nursing student Mairead Ryan has been central to MyStoryYourStory, a campaign for better mental health services for young people in Northern Ireland. She has led several initiatives to promote positive mental health, increase awareness of addictions and offer insights about the affect on families by speaking at public events, to the media and in schools, as well as organising meetings with local politicians. She is an internationally established youth leader in mental health awareness, representing Northern Ireland at the European Network of Young Advisors collaboration meeting in Barcelona, supporting the work of the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children and participating in a youth panel forum discussion for the United Nations’ 75th anniversary.
Since Nicola Trehane began the new perinatal peer mentor support worker role, she has significantly developed the interventions offered and support given to women, liaising with other perinatal support workers to expand this blueprint for further care. Her interventions include emotional well-being, nursery nurse objectives of bathing and weaning, Millpond sleep training, practical skills, safety information for the home, bonding and attachment. To ensure she provided holistic care she learnt mindfulness and relaxation skills and undertook further training so that she could improve the attachment and bond between mother and baby using baby massage which she teaches in the antenatal period and after the baby is born.
Stringent infection prevention procedures have enabled Ashgate to continue to deliver high-quality palliative and end of life care to patients and their families. It extended this care to COVID-19 patients on a dedicated wing of their inpatient unit. During the second wave of the pandemic, demand was so great that the hospice opened a second COVID wing and one in three of its beds were used by people with COVID-19. The hospice is rightly proud that despite this, they have avoided any outbreaks and there has been no cross-infection of patients, staff, volunteers or visitors, ensuring families were able to visit loved ones with or without COVID-19.
A record number of nominations have been received for nurse practitioner Paul Murray to receive a Patient’s Choice Award.
Mr Murray, who worked at Causeway Hospital, Coleraine, died after a cardiac arrest in February. The testimonies from people he supported show the huge impact he had on the people he cared for as well as the wider community.
The nominations included accounts of numerous occasions where he went above and beyond to get people with terminal cancer discharged from hospital to spend time with their families. In one case, he organised a helicopter to take a man at the end of life to Scotland so he could die at home with his family.
With the Royal London Hospital facing a rising tide of very ill patients during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became evident that a speedy remodelling of nursing care was required to be delivered by the 200 substantive critical care nursing staff and more than 400 redeployed staff. The 44-bed critical care unit (of which 22 beds are ordinarily level 3) successfully expanded to care for 157 predominately very ill level-3 patients in multiorgan failure. Despite the moral distress of not being able to provide the usual care standards by working in this way, the team provided the chance of life and recovery to many patients and their families.