RCN Nursing Awards - Friday 10 November

The Patient's Choice Award

Voting for the RCN Nursing Awards 2023 Patient's Choice Award closed at midnight on Friday 20th October.

Chloë Hammond

A. Chloë Hammond

Community Lead Nurse, Radis Community Care

John and Eileen Hullett have nominated Chloe for her exceptional care of their son Johnny, who has cerebral palsy and profound learning disabilities.

They say: ‘Chloe’s interaction with Johnny is amazing. He’s always excited when he knows Chloe is due to visit and has a very good relationship with Ocho, Chloe’s assistance dog.

‘Chloe has done remarkable work building a good rapport with Johnny and gaining his trust. Previously Johnny struggled with meeting new people who support him and had behavioural outbursts that would cause him distress.

‘Chloe has made him feel safe, settled and supported so he now can have new care workers with minimal distress. We have been able to get back to being the parents of our son, not just carers. Chloe is an asset and inspiration.’

Chloe provides global online support to other people with disabilities. She has been instrumental in showing that people with disabilities can be empowered by assisting others and has made a series of videos, in collaboration with her employer, to show that being a wheelchair user or having an assistance dog, does not prevent people from working in care.

Chloe says: ‘I am so proud to even be nominated for this award and to be a finalist is absolutely incredible. I love being a nurse and am so pleased to be inspirational and influential in my patients’ lives.

‘As a person with a disability, I know first hand how complex the feelings can be, to require care and assistance when all you want is to be independent. I understand how it can feel like an invasion of privacy, a lack of control, and almost a sense of accepting help means giving up. I'm so pleased to be able to help my patients see a future and help them with achieving goals and finding themselves again.

‘I hope that by being a finalist, I can show the health and social care sector world that nurses with disabilities are still valid and still nurses with so much to offer.

‘Yes the working environment may need some adaptations but that's easily overcome. The NHS is always looking for ways to recruit and retain staff and I think focusing on the contribution people with disabilities make to the workforce could help make nurses with amazing professional and personal experiences feel like they are able to continue to care.’

Joan Pons Laplana

B. Joan Pons Laplana

Project Choice Area Manager, NHS England

Joan - known as Jo - was nominated by Graham Rodgers who nearly died from a stroke after Covid-19.

Graham says: ‘I spent 11 weeks in the Hallamshire Hospital ITU, then weeks on the stroke ward. I owe my life to the many consultants, doctors, dedicated nurses and all who work at our amazing hospitals. But Jo deserves a special nomination.

‘As I could not have any visitors, my brother Alan called ITU three times a day to see how I was. Jo assured him that he would be my brother in his place and take good care of me.

‘Jo spent lots of time talking to me while I was in my coma. Alan mentioned that I was a musician and used to live in Nashville writing songs. Jo played them on a small speaker by my bedside. He noticed my heart rate increased when my music was played - that I was in there somewhere.

‘I remember hearing some music at the end of a long dark corridor. The music got louder and I heard women talking about the songs and realised that the songs were mine. That is when, to the delight of everyone, I finally woke up!

‘Jo came to see me straight away but I didn’t recognise him or remember his chats with me. I was transferred to the stroke ward and wondered about the “Spanish Jo” who’d been such a part of my adventure.

‘I finally got in contact with Jo and it was a very emotional conversation.

‘After the stroke damage I could no longer play the guitar or sing. I was devastated but my friends encouraged me to return to music, resulting in a comeback concert in December 2022.

‘Some of the ITU nurses came to see me including Jo. I had to learn guitar all over again to do this but Jo knew how much it meant to me. He was with me all the way helping, organising and getting me to TV studios and radio stations. I found out that Jo has been diagnosed with PTSD from working as an ITU nurse during the pandemic and had to leave his role.

‘He is still working for the NHS and he spends a lot of his time fundraising for NHS charities by writing and self-publishing a book on his experiences as a nurse and selling it online. Jo also runs marathons, raising funds for Chesterfield Ashgate Hospice. He is an amazing person.

‘We met in terrible circumstances but are now in regular contact and he remains interested in my welfare and ongoing recovery. He never stops giving me encouragement. The world is a much better place for having Jo in it!’

Joan says: ‘I feel over the moon to be nominated for this most prestigious award. As a nurse you want to make a difference and the fact that one of your patients decided to take time to tell his story and how I made a difference to them is incredible.’

Joan Newberry

C. Joan Newberry

Nurse, Friends School Lisburn

Joan Newberry was nominated by Josh Hannigan who says she always goes above and beyond for him and all the other pupils at the Friends’ School Lisburn in Northern Ireland.

The 16-year-old says: ‘Joan is my school nurse and I have nominated her because she has looked after me constantly since I have been at the school, both mentally and physically.

‘I have had multiple accidents such as a broken arm and broken ankle, as well as torn knee ligaments. Throughout Joan has been a huge help caring for me and giving me the support I need to not just succeed in school, but with daily activities.

‘Joan was able to give me the mental health care and support I needed when I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression but struggled to engage with mental health services.

‘She regularly checks how I am doing. I had a significant increase in anxiety when I was coming up to exams but Joan was always able to give me the support I needed.

‘There are so many other examples of Joan going above and beyond but I think the important thing to understand is Joan is an above and beyond person. She doesn't do things just to complete them because in her eyes that's not good enough.’

Joan is ‘surprised and delighted’ to have been nominated for an award by Josh.

‘I’m surprised because I’m at the end of my career and surprised as I don’t have “patients”. I have my amazing students, aged from three to 18 years and feel privileged to know each one.

‘I’m delighted that Josh took the time to nominate me and that he has had his voice heard. Mental health issues in our young people is a huge issue. And it takes a huge amount of courage to admit that you are mentally struggling. This is more difficult for our young male population.

‘Josh represents so many who struggle and I am so proud that Josh has felt empowered to speak out and hope through his example that others will. He is an amazing young man and we have cried and laughed together.

‘I hope this raises awareness of the young people of Northern Ireland who need fit-for-purpose mental health services for all and services that are as diverse as our young people.

‘Also, I am so pleased for the very small number of independent school nurses in Northern Ireland who are largely unrecognised in their roles, so girls this is for us!’

Arches District Nursing Team

D. Arches District Nursing Team

District nursing sister, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust

This team has been nominated by Janette Connor.

She says: ‘I have a rare disease that means I have over 200 skin ulcers dressed daily by the district nurses for the last two years. They look after other elements of my care, such as my Hickman line. They advocate for me - a voice when I’m too overwhelmed to speak for myself. I’m not a complex case when I’m with them but a person who has good days and bad, hopes and goals.

‘Before I was under their care, I was referred to A&E for skin infections multiple times a month (and I only had a couple of ulcers). In one year, I spent close to 200 nights in hospital, significantly impacting my relationships and mental health.

‘Since this team has taken over, I have had one unplanned hospital admission in two years. The disease is more active than ever, but I can now work from home and spend time with friends and family. When I went into the hospital, the team understood my anxiety and contacted all the appropriate people to ensure a smooth transition.

‘My family are reassured that I’m getting such great care at home. They can see the team has given me back my dignity and self esteem. One friend recently said I’ve gotten my spark back, lost during so much time in hospital.
‘The district nurses have gone above and beyond getting to know me as a person, my needs and what is important to me. Last year was one of the hardest, and the nurses listened, gave me space to cry, been a listening ear and even brought flowers and chocolates after a rough week. They also celebrated successes and milestones.

‘They have worked late past the end of a shift so I could shower after a hospital admission, not easy with a body covered in dressings. They knew I’d feel much better about myself. Life with this disease can be pretty hard sometimes, and people tend to give up, but the district nurses haven't. Instead, they show up with a smile and a Netflix recommendation.
‘Without them, my only option would be a long-term inpatient stay. Instead, they have given me a quality of life I’ve not had in years. Most of all, they've given me hope, encouraged me to live my life to the fullest and allowed me to make the most of opportunities despite living with this awful condition. I know that with this team of nurses in my corner, everything will be ok.’

Team lead sister Orla Glennon says: ‘We’re shocked and delighted to be nominated. It’s quite something to publicly hear the positive impact we can have on a patient’s life and overall wellbeing. In these challenging times in nursing, we are still able to provide professional holistic care.’

Chloe Ball

E. Chloe Ball

Mental health nurse, Sheffield Health and Social Care

Mental health staff nurse Chloe was nominated by Mizata Kamara for ‘changing her life and giving her the prospect of a future’.

She says: ‘Despite nearly a year acutely struggling with mental health and still having a long journey ahead, I'm now planning to attend university in 2024, learning to drive and volunteering.

‘I came into Dovedale adult inpatient mental health services aged 18, youngest on the ward, autistic and first admission of my life. Ageing out of the foster care system meant no family support. I was scared, hopeless and feeling pretty let down. I believed any service was wasted on me.

‘But Chloe saw strength in me and worked through my complex trauma, depression adapting care to my needs each day.

‘For weeks, I would not talk or leave my room. Chloe dedicated daily time to build trust, rapport and get to know me. She helped create a communication system to support me in verbalising my feelings and helping staff understand me.

‘Having sensory issues/autism means I'm easily overwhelmed, require predictability and have distressing meltdowns on busy wards. She provided quiet spaces and created a sensory room to help calm me. She used open, clear and non judgmental communication especially if my autism meant I bombarded her with lots of anxieties, doubts and what ifs.

‘I’m black with Afro-Caribbean, very coily, hard-to-manage hair but Chloe would ring round nearby salons to find someone to help when I was feeling so low and unable to care for it myself. She searched online for protective hairstyles and ways to manage them when an appointment got cancelled causing distress.

‘Chloe advocated for me and taught me I was worth fighting for. I didn't have family attending team meetings but Chloe ensured my care was as exceptional as for anyone else. She made the ward a community, buying drinks and snacks for New Year’s Eve with her own money so those who couldn't go home got to celebrate.

‘Once I was feeling better, Chloe helped me plan goals, learn skills and aspire to things for the future. She helped me believe I could get back into education or work. She advocated for me to start some volunteering at the children's hospital, giving me motivation and purpose.

‘Chloe deserves this award because she gave me the chance to work through my past, live through my present and have a chance at a future despite the adversities. I've never felt so understood and accepted for who I am.