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Patient’s Choice: Dedicated renal unit team ensured I never felt alone

The three members of the home therapies team in the renal unit at Altnagelvin Area Hospital in Northern Ireland have been nominated for the prestigious Patient’s Choice award at this year’s RCNi Nurse Awards for their dedication and commitment

The three members of the home therapies team in the renal unit at Altnagelvin Area Hospital in Northern Ireland have been nominated for the prestigious Patient’s Choice award at this year’s RCNi Nurse Awards for their dedication and commitment

Carmel McMonagle had her kidneys removed after a cancer diagnosis. She was on dialysis for seven years until husband Joe donated one of his kidneys to her four years ago.

‘It has been such a journey – without the home therapies team at Altnagelvin Area Hospital renal unit I don’t know how I would have coped,’ she says.

Alison Cairns, Bridgeen Canning and Caroline McCloskey, who work for Western Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland, have been nominated by the couple in the Patient’s Choice category of the RCNi Nurse Awards 2018 for their dedication and commitment to patients.

‘When you get a diagnosis like mine you need someone in your corner, and with these nurses I was never alone’

Carmel McMonagle

‘When I was diagnosed I thought my life had ended,’ says Ms McMonagle. ‘But these nurses made sure I knew what was going on, and that I was able to get on with my life.

‘They showed me I had a life to live. They enabled me to rule my dialysis rather than it rule me. When you get a diagnosis like mine you need someone in your corner, and with these nurses I was never alone.

‘They are always at the end of the phone to talk things through. I was able to do home dialysis because of their backup. They were absolutely excellent.’

Mr McMonagle says the team recognises that the whole family is affected and provides support for every member.

‘All three have shown a passion to involve patients at the very start of their journey through kidney failure.

‘They do their jobs very well but what amazes me is how far they go beyond that in their own time. They organise fun days so patients and families get to know each other, which is so important, as well as lifestyle and well-being courses and a remembrance service for those who have passed away due to organ failure.

‘Last year we sent a team to the transplant games – the home therapies team nurses organised it and two went to look after the team. They were also responsible for the creation of a Garden of Life, which is to give thanks to organ donors.’

Sharing hopes and fears

The peer support group set up by the nurses to enable patients to share their experience, information, hopes and fears has been a great success.

Ms McMonagle adds: ‘They are so humble – they say they’re just doing their job, but they definitely go over and above. They deserve this award.’

Alison Cairns says the team is ‘a bit overwhelmed and totally shocked’ to be nominated for such a prestigious award.

‘It’s a weird feeling that someone has cared so much to nominate us. It is very humbling. It’s lovely to know we have made such a difference.

‘I don’t see us as doing a job – we are walking with people on their journeys. They are the courageous ones. When we meet patients they will be living with this for the rest of their lives, and we are part of that journey for the rest of their lives.’

She says the support group is now leading work to support newly diagnosed patients.

About the team

She adds: ‘It is great to be nominated but it’s not just about us – it is about the team that works about us and the renal unit and our manager and the support they give us that enables us to deliver the care that we do.’

Caroline McCloskey says: ‘I was initially shocked that someone would take the time to write. That these patients think so highly of us is very lovely. After 18 years, I still love nursing and feel very lucky to have a job that is so rewarding.’

The Patient’s Choice award, sponsored by Yakult, enables members of the public to thank a nurse, midwife, health visitor, healthcare assistant or assistant practitioner who has delivered exceptional care.

Inspirational stories

A public vote is currently under way to choose the winner of this prestigious award, in which patients nominate a nurse whose care has had an enormous impact on their lives.

The five moving and inspirational stories of excellent and compassionate care shortlisted for the Patient’s Choice category of the RCNi Nurse Awards 2018 feature nurses from general practice, acute care and the community who have improved their patients’ lives and, in one case, helped them have a good death.

Voting is now closed. The winner will be announced at the RCNi Nurse Awards ceremony in London on 4 July. Find out more at nurseawards.co.uk


The RCNi Patient’s Choice award is sponsored by Yakult

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