Patient’s Choice: Practice nurse shows boundless compassion for diabetes patients

Catherine Cassell, a nurse of 28 years who has been nominated for the prestigious Patient’s Choice category at the RCNi Nurse Awards 2018, says the key to success is to develop a rapport with patients

Catherine Cassell,  a nurse of 28 years who has been nominated in the prestigious Patient’s Choice category at the RCNi Nurse Awards 2018, says the key to success is to develop a rapport with patients

‘I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes four years ago and the stigma hit me hard,’ says Nicola Hayes. ‘News headlines were about the obesity epidemic. Shame and guilt kept my head buried in the sand. Then Catherine came along – kind, caring and patient and all that you would expect from a nurse.’

Ms Hayes and fellow patient Stephen Pacey have nominated their practice nurse Catherine Cassell, who works at Preston Grove Medical Centre in Somerset.

‘What I didn't expect was her dogged determination to never give up on me,’ says Ms Hayes. ‘Her positive approach slowly worked its magic.

Shining example

‘Catherine saved my life. It sounds dramatic but it’s true. Her love of the job and the compassion she has for her patients is boundless.’

Ms Hayes says her nurse constantly looks for ways to inspire and guide her patients, researching her subject and looking for the latest resources and recipes for a healthier diet.

‘She is a shining example of someone born to be a nurse and to help others,' she adds.

‘She gives her time freely, going the extra mile to help, particularly when things seem bleak. I have cried with her, sworn, laughed. I have never been judged by her, never turned away and never told to sort myself out.

‘Catherine saved my life. It sounds dramatic but it’s true. Her love of the job and the compassion she has for her patients is boundless’

Patient Nicola Hayes

‘The biggest gift she has given me is acceptance of who I am and my condition. My blood sugars have reduced from an average of 18 to an average of nine. My HbA1C has reduced from 101 to 60. I have lost three stone in weight. None of this would have happened without Catherine.’

Enthusiasm and empathy

Stephen Pacey has lost eight stone in the past year after being referred when overweight and pre-diabetic. ‘One year ago Catherine decided that a major lifestyle intervention was required to improve my overall health and well-being. I have resolved my pre-diabetes.

‘At all times she has displayed enthusiasm and a degree of empathy that has made me willing to listen and act on everything she has said. I consider myself very fortunate to have benefited from Catherine's knowledge, enthusiasm and humour on my journey. I doubt if I could have achieved all that I have without her help.’

Both patients also value the peer support group she has set up, which is open to patients from other surgeries.

‘I share what I learn with my patients’

Ms Cassell is ‘surprised but elated’ to be nominated.

Key to her success, she says, is rapport with her patients – ‘they trust me’ – as well as her knowledge and efforts to motivate them.

‘I used to check blood tests and see what medication I could put patients on. Now I help them look at what they eat and drink. It was a huge learning curve for me, but I do my research and share what I have learnt with my patients.

‘I realise how difficult it is for people and I treat them holistically. It’s not just about diet. It’s about movement and exercise. I work out what each patient can do in their lives, giving them the tools and motivating and inspiring them to do it.’

Leading by example

This includes leading by example – she has lost two stone on the dietary advice she gives her patients and sometimes weighs in with them.

‘Since last year I have had type 2 patients go into remission and others hugely reduce their insulin doses. It makes me very emotional – I am just so proud of all of them. And I tell them so.

‘I feel like a winner already because my patients have put me forward. I’ve been nursing for 28 years so to get this now is overwhelming. I can’t thank my patients enough.’

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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