Patient’s Choice: Nurse helped me escape cycle of self-harm

A woman who repeatedly harmed herself found a way out of her despair with the understanding and support of nurse Jill Whibley

A woman who repeatedly harmed herself found a way out of her despair with the understanding and support of nurse Jill Whibley

A woman whose self-harm made her a frequent visitor to A&E has nominated a ‘flexible, motivational, empowering and caring nurse’ for our prestigious Patient’s Choice award.

The patient, who wants to remain anonymous because her family does not know about her mental health problems, has been seeing nurse Jill Whibley for a year.

Ms Whibley, a nurse with Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, works with people identified as having high attendance at A&E to understand their underlying needs.

‘In the past I had nowhere to turn. Now I know I can contact Jill, who is extremely supportive’

‘Many patients Jill sees, including myself, have mental health issues and self-harm by cutting,’ says the patient.

‘Jill is such a good listener and has many ideas around signposting. In the past I had nowhere to turn. Now I know I can contact Jill, who is extremely supportive. Jill gives clients her phone number so they can text or call her well in advance of feeling in crisis. She is available, flexible, motivational, empowering and caring.

‘Self-harm is such a difficult area for many to understand and respond to, yet I feel Jill gets it, while being able to advise on wound care, peer support, harm minimisation and GP services.

‘She is available early and late on some days, which fits in when patients feel vulnerable out of hours. She takes clients to places that provide an alternative to A&E, such as crisis cafes.’

Ms Whibley developed a treatment plan for staff at the patient’s GP surgery, explaining what she needed after self-harm, such as dressings on repeat prescription.

The patient credits Ms Whibley’s dedication and wealth of nursing experience for her success.

No longer feeling shame

Since meeting Ms Whibley, the patient has significantly reduced her self-harming, gained promotion in her job and accessed private psychological help. ‘I haven’t been to A&E since December 2016. I have not had a day off sick in 12 months and she has encouraged me in progressing at work and allowing colleagues to support me through increased understanding.

‘She understands that other services discharge quickly, which can then lead to this cycle of people feeling they have nowhere to turn and so ending up in A&E again.’

The support has also enabled her to tackle other health issues such as proctitis and irritable bowel syndrome: ‘These previously caused me a lot of shame.’

Ms Whibley says she feels overwhelmed.

‘I feel touched that she took the time to do it when she has other, difficult things in her life.

Different point of view

‘I absolutely love my job, which enables me to work holistically with people who are frequently attending A&E and ask them what we can do to make things different. I look at it from a different point of view – not telling them what I think they need but finding out what they think they need.

‘It has been a success, with a significant reduction in A&E attendances and admissions because there are care plans in place to help people make decisions.

‘I feel quite humbled to read that she thinks I have made such a difference – she has done so well herself. I am really proud of her.’

Inspirational stories

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.

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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