RCNi Nurse Awards 2018: renal home therapies team wins Patient's Choice award

Passion and commitment of three nurses makes them worthy winners

Passion and commitment of three nurses makes them worthy RCNi Nurse Awards 2018 winners

Award winners Alison Cairns, Bridgeen Canning and Caroline McCloskey. Picture: Presseye

A team that supported a couple through kidney cancer, years of dialysis, transplant and beyond has won a category of the RCNi Nurse Awards 2018.

The renal home therapies nurses – Alison Cairns, Caroline McCloskey and Bridgeen Canning – were named winners of the Patient’s Choice award at a ceremony on July 4.

'So proud to win'

The Altnagelvin Area Hospital team, part of Western Health and Social Care Trust, was nominated by Carmel and Joe McMonagle before being selected for the five-strong shortlist put to a public vote. Thousands took part, with the team from Derry/Londonderry winning most votes.

Ms Canning says: ‘We are so proud to win this award – proud for our nominators Carmel and Joe but also our other patients and colleagues.'

‘These nurses made sure I was able to get on with my life. They enabled me to rule my dialysis rather than it rule me’

Carmel McMonagle

Ms McMonagle's kidneys were removed following a cancer diagnosis. She was on dialysis for seven years until her husband Joe donated a kidney to her four years ago. The couple's nurses have been by their side all the way.

‘It has been such a journey – without them I don’t know how I would have coped,’ Ms McMonagle says. ‘When I got my diagnosis, I thought my life had ended. I needed someone in my corner, and with these nurses I was never alone.

‘They made sure I knew what was going on and was able to get on with my life. They enabled me to rule my dialysis rather than it rule me.’

Joe and Carmel McMonagle in the commemorative garden. Picture: Presseye

When the renal team suggested she try home dialysis Ms McMonagle was at first unsure, but her nurses gave her the support she needed.

‘I was only able to do home dialysis because of their back-up,’ she says. ‘They are always at the end of the phone to talk things through. I had never needled myself – they patiently taught me how.  

‘They are constantly striving to improve every aspect of care’

Joe McMonagle

Mr McMonagle says all three nurses have shown a passion to involve patients at the start.

‘They take extra time to ensure all patients have as much information as possible on their condition and the treatments available to allow them to make decisions. 

It is clear the nurses are committed to providing the best service. ‘They are constantly striving to improve every aspect of the care and education of patients and have developed questionnaires to gather patient feedback on the education, training of patients and their understanding of treatments,’ he adds.

A peer support group set up by the team enables patients to express their concerns and benefit from the experience of others.  

The nurses join the McMonagles and other patients in the peer support group. Picture: Presseye

Activities organised in their own time

The nurses organise – in their own time – fun days to enable patients’ families can get to know each other, lifestyle and well-being courses, and a remembrance service for those who have died. They created a commemorative garden where patients and families can go to give thanks to organ donors. Last year, they organised and accompanied a team attending the British Transplant Games.

‘We were shocked and humbled by this – we are just doing our job’

Caroline McCloskey

The nurses have almost 55 years’ nursing experience between them – Ms Cairns is a specialist in pre-dialysis, Ms McCloskey a specialist in transplant and Ms Canning is a dialysis nurse specialist.

‘We were shocked someone took the time to write,’ says Ms McCloskey. ‘We are humbled by it all. We are just doing our job.

Ms Cairns adds: ‘It is lovely to know we have made such a difference. Unlike many of our patients, Carmel had a sudden diagnosis. After her second kidney was removed, she was confident enough for us to move her home to carry out dialysis. It was unique to our renal service.'

Able to build trust

Ms Canning says: ‘As our renal patients will never be discharged from our service, it provides us with the ideal situation of building trust and good patient care.’

They pay tribute to the McMonagles. ‘When we wanted to give something back to patients and set up a support group they came on board. Now they are leading on work to support newly diagnosed patients,’ says Ms Cairns.

She says the award is ‘very motivating’ and will nurture the desire to keep striving for better care. I am delighted we have had such a profound impact on Carmel and Joe’s journey.’

The RCNi Nurse Awards 2018 Patient’s Choice award was sponsored by Yakult


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