Safeguarding against the odds: ‘this highlights what learning disability nurses do’

Patient’s Choice award nominee Marie Perry ‘went all out’ to ensure a young man’s safety

Marie Perry was determined to safeguard a young man with learning disabilities

Concerns had existed for some time about Jonas*, a young man with learning disabilities.

There were signs that Jonas’ was at risk, but despite a wide range of professionals providing support, no-one had collected enough evidence to allow Jonas to be moved to a place of safety.

Working tirelessly to ensure his safety

Learning disability nurse Marie Perry has been nominated for a Patient’s Choice award for the determination she showed in safeguarding Jonas.

‘Without her, he would have died – and we would be looking at another serious case review,’ says Nicola Protheroe-Jones, who nominated Ms Perry.

‘She was the first to recognise the issues and for nine months, she went all out to unravel the family’s history and make sure this information was heard - chasing leads and clinicians to ensure all the information about the family was collected and followed up.’

Read about the rest of our Patient’s Choice finalists below, or click here to vote

Ms Perry, who works for NHS Walsall Clinical Commissioning Group in the West Midlands, methodically contacted every professional connected to the case – including GP surgeries, pharmacists, consultants, care providers, learning disability nurses, drug rehabilitation units, social services, lead commissioners and police.

She engaged with them and asked services to justify their actions before formulating a plan they had to adhere to.

‘All these people needed to play a part and Ms Perry managed to conduct the orchestra with passion and dignity,’ says Ms Protheroe-Jones.

Persevering despite animosity towards the investigation

Daily monitoring of their responses culminated in legal advice being taken and the informed decision to move Jonas to a place of safety.

Nicola Protheroe-Jones: ‘She left no
stone unturned’

‘It is hard to put into words the impact on Jonas,’ says Ms Protheroe-Jones. ‘I know him well enough to know that he would want to thank this nurse for all the effort and dedication she showed towards trying to improve his life. She stood up against great animosity but held her ground.

‘He would want to thank her for the 36 phone calls she made in one day chasing a wide range of professionals for a response and the days of meticulous planning to get everyone connected with the case aware of the situation and taking the actions she felt were needed.

‘He would also want to thank her for the fact he is now safe and happy and has company that stimulates him. He would want her to know that he is smiling and using his voice and without her, he would never have been heard. I have no doubt that Marie saved his life – and now he is living his best life.’

Award would shine a light on the learning disability nurse role

Ms Perry says she is surprised to be nominated, but the real satisfaction comes from knowing Jonas is safe and happy.

‘I am honoured and I hope it highlights what we do as learning disability nurses. I hear too often that “it is not proper nursing”. My colleague Lisa Smith also deserves this award for picking up so much of my other work – otherwise this would have taken many more months.’

*Not his real name

Voting for the RCNi Patient’s Choice award opens on 17 August and closes at midnight on 11 September. The winner will be announced at a virtual ceremony later this year

Elaine Cole is RCNi special projects editor

The RCNi Patient’s Choice award is supported by Nursing Standard