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The search for the best in nursing begins with the launch of the RCNi Nurse Awards 2018, the profession’s top accolade
Our contest to honour the nation’s inspirational and innovative nurses is again under way with the launch of the RCNi Nurse Awards 2018, the profession’s top accolade.
The awards offer a chance to nominate a colleague or team for their outstanding contribution to care, or share excellent practice with the wider nursing community. Winning can raise the profile of a specialty or the challenges faced by a particular patient group.
Celebrating the breadth and depth of the profession
The 14 categories celebrating the breadth and depth of the profession are open to nurses, midwives and health visitors registered to practise in the UK, nursing students and those working in health support roles, such as healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Park Plaza Hotel in Westminster on 4 July. The RCN Nurse of the Year, chosen from the category winners, will be revealed on the night.
‘Our entrants always say modestly that they are just doing their jobs, but they are often doing significantly more than that’
RCNi editorial director Graham Scott says: ‘Nurses are under unprecedented pressure and working in difficult conditions but they still give their all to improve the health and lives of their patients. The judges are always overwhelmed by the enormity of what nurses do day in, day out and these awards are an opportunity to celebrate that commitment and expertise.
‘Our entrants always say modestly that they are just doing their jobs, but they are often doing significantly more than that. We hope they will take this opportunity to showcase their great work and share it with the wider profession.’
Nurse of the Year
Melanie Davies, a ward sister at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, was named RCN Nurse of the Year 2017 for her work to improve the care given to people with learning difficulties at her hospital. She also won the Learning Disability Practice category.
Her care bundle and champions programme has been spread not only throughout her health board but also implemented across Wales. She developed the comprehensive initiative mostly in her own time, after her ward was heavily criticised by the health service ombudsman following the death of Paul Ridd, a man with learning difficulties.
Melanie says: ‘I am still a bit overwhelmed by having won as I feel I was just doing my job. It is such an honour. It has given me experiences that other nurses would not have.
‘I never forget how this has come about – it is the result of a man’s death – but it is a lovely legacy that Paul has made such a difference to the care of so many people with learning disabilities.’
Melanie especially valued the chance to raise awareness of the challenges faced by people with learning disabilities in acute settings and help healthcare professionals to address them.
Influencing the agenda
She has been able to discuss her work with key politicians in Wales and England, including a breakfast meeting with Wales’ health minister Vaughan Gething, first minister Carwyn Jones and chief nursing officer for Wales Jean White. She also attended a lobbying event in parliament with the RCN.
‘I was guest speaker at the Learning Disability Conference and have presented and delivered teaching sessions for a wide range of people from nurses to people with learning disabilities,’ she adds. ‘We have recently presented to care home managers.
‘It has been fantastic highlighting how hospital staff can transform care for people with learning disabilities.
‘We have achieved a lot to improve care for people with learning disabilities in acute settings in Wales,’ she says. ‘But nurses approach me after my presentation and tell me that they want to put champions in place in their hospitals but are struggling for months to make it happen.
‘For the next six months I will be using the unique platform I have been given with the Nurse of the Year title to work with the Paul Ridd Foundation to spread the word further and help nurses make their hospitals safer.’
How will it help other nurses?
Diane Palmer, winner of the 2017 Innovation in your Specialty category, supported by Nursing Standard, also found the awards an invaluable means of raising her project’s profile.
Her trust’s deputy clinical lead David Powell nominated her for creating the Veterans Universal Passport, a multi-agency record of care held by the patient.
‘I was keen to raise awareness of the passport both with the veterans who may need to use one and the health and social care professionals who would be expected to make notes in it,’ says Diane.
Watch: Innovation in your Specialty Award winner 2017 Diane Palmer describes her winning project
‘Since I was piloting the passport, the awards gave me the opportunity to get good media coverage.’
She advised people thinking of entering for the awards to reflect on what they do that makes a difference, how they think outside the box and how others can learn from their experience.
Sharing best practice
‘The RCNi Nurse Awards are all about sharing ideas and best practice and being inspirational,’ she adds. ‘To win you will need to show how you went above and beyond, what obstacles you overcame and who it has benefited, with patient experience being at the forefront.
‘The awards provide the opportunity to have your work independently judged, to show patients, carers and the general public that nurses are worthy of recognition and to uphold the public’s faith in the nursing profession.’
Category winners’ projects feature in RCNi’s journals – including Nursing Standard – in print and online, so they reach across the wider nursing community.
This has proved invaluable to the 2017 Leadership category winners, Healthy Child Programme service lead Susie Scales and immunisation co-ordinator Amy Sims.
They designed, implemented and evaluated a county-wide school age immunisation service for Derbyshire Community Health Services within a short timescale.
The ‘amazing nurses’ were nominated by their then manager Helen Cooper for the leadership they displayed to start the outstanding service from scratch, with no trained staff, resources, equipment, office space or history of such an innovation, bringing in an entire team and partners on their journey.
The award has given them opportunities outside their current role, and has attracted interest locally and been covered in the media, including Nursing Standard and Nursing Management. They have since joined the editorial advisory board of Nursing Management.
‘Amy and I are very excited to be part of this,’ says Ms Scales. ‘We won this award jointly but we represented the school age immunisation team, who have done a fantastic job at continuing to increase uptake. It gave them a boost to continue that fantastic work with pride and commitment and strive to do better.’
She will be nominating colleagues this year. ‘It is such a great opportunity,’ she adds. ‘We do not shout loudly enough about the fantastic job we are doing looking after our patients and clients.’
‘The RCNi Nurse Awards celebrate nursing talent and innovation across our many fields. I felt it was a great opportunity to raise the profile of the Photo at Discharge,’ says Melissa Rochon, who was highly commended in the Innovations in Your Specialty category of RCNi NurseAwards 2017.
In the Photo at Discharge, or PaD, scheme, a nurse-led project to reduce readmissions for surgical site infections, photos of wounds are added to electronic records, with patients given a copy at discharge.
‘The whole process was enjoyable – even filling out the application makes you think about your project in new ways and draw out its key benefits. The judging panel was impressive – it was surreal discussing PaD with leaders in the nursing and healthcare fields,’ says Melissa, a clinical nurse specialist in surveillance.
‘Everyone involved in the event took the time to say hello and discuss the projects with us – I loved it that judges joined us on the tables on the day and in the evening. We also had the opportunity to spend time with the other finalists. Their incredible work and attitude were so inspiring. The whole atmosphere was really supportive and positive for nursing.’
The PaD scheme was highly commended on the evening and Nursing Standard also featured it in its July issue (right). ‘The coverage helped promote the scheme from a nursing perspective and I feel this sort of endorsement is essential when presenting innovations to others, including commissioning bodies, other trusts and healthcare organisations,’ says Melissa.
‘I would recommend entering to other nurses. It is a great event and you are supported every step of the way by the RCNi team.
‘My advice to people who are considering entering is submit. Even filling in the entry form is a great opportunity to put down on paper how you are working to help patients and showcase the nursing profession.’
The deadline for entries is 9 February 2018.