RCNi Nurse Awards - Weds 3rd July 2019 - Westminster Park Plaza, London

The Patient's Choice Award

Voting has now closed. The winner will be announced at the RCNi Nurse Awards ceremony in London on 3 July. Visit rcni.com/nurse-awards to see all of this year's finalists.

Valerie Miller

A. Valerie Miller

Teenage and young adult clinical nurse specialist, Western Health and Social Care Trust

A cancer diagnosis shook university student Jacqueline Cowan, but she coped with the support of clinical nurse specialist Valerie Miller.

Jacqueline Cowan was enjoying university with her whole life ahead of her when she was diagnosed with cancer.

'It was one of the scariest moments in my life, and my parents were equally terrified,' she recalls. However, teenage and young adult clinical nurse specialist Valerie Miller was 'an amazing source of support' through those early days and the treatment that followed, including making Altnagelvin Area Hospital in Londonderry a home from home.

When she learnt Ms Cowan loved gaming, she even found a way for her to have access to an Xbox video game console while in hospital.

'I'm so grateful to have Valerie in my life,' says Ms Cowan. 'Nothing was ever too much for her. She was there for my first chemo session and my last and many in between, has sat with me talking about everything and anything just to distract me from the treatment, has given advice and stayed at work late just to make me and my mum a cup of tea after a particularly hard day at the clinic.

'She has found ways to make me laugh even when I wanted to cry, and I can't think of anyone more deserving of this award.'

Ms Miller, who works for Western Health and Social Care Trust, says: 'I feel really humbled that Jacqueline nominated me after all that she has been through. I cried when I heard - I still can't believe it. She is such a lovely, bubbly person and I have loved being able to support her.'

Andrea Jennings

B. Andrea Jennings

District Nurse, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust

Bereaved spouses laud ongoing care from district nurse Andrea Jennings

One day Jonas Thorsen and Catherine Dwyer were discussing losing their spouses to cancer when they realised they had something in common - outstanding care from district nurse Andrea Jennings.

'She is proactive and a problem solver,' say Ms Dwyer. 'She gives of herself and cares for not just the patient but their families as well.'

Ms Dwyer says the clinical excellence of the Queen's Nurse made a huge difference to her husband's quality of life.

Referring to Mr Thorsen's wife, Yvonne, she adds: 'When Yvonne was admitted to the hospice, Andrea telephoned and visited to see how she was. When she returned home, she had Andrea's personal mobile number so she could call her at any time.

'Between 6pm and 8pm there is no nursing cover in the area. Andrea would always phone to check whether Yvonne needed any pain relief before the night nurses took over. After our spouses died, Jonas and I both appreciated Andrea's ongoing care.'

Ms Jennings, who works for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, says: 'I'm not one for being in the centre of the limelight. I was a bit taken aback when I received the call to say I had been nominated.'

She stresses that while she made an extra connection with these patients, the care provided was a team effort. 'My brilliant team was working hard looking after other patients, so I was able to give these patients extra support. I am so lucky to have had them.'

Sarah Everett

C. Sarah Everett

Practice sister , NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

A group of socially isolated men now have a place where they can meet and enjoy meaningful activities thanks to a project driven by practice sister Sarah Everett

Practice sister Sarah Everett knew many of her male patients were socially isolated and lacked access to meaningful activities. Keen to make a difference, she consulted patients including John Alexander about creating a place where men could meet, enjoy each other's company and pursue practical interests.

The project is now a charity, part of the Men's Shed movement, empowering men who are retired, unemployed or unfit for work to take control of their health.

'She was sensitive to our mental and physical health needs and knew there was little motivation to make healthy lifestyle choices,' says Mr Alexander.

'She has been the driving force and so willing to go the extra mile for men like us, dedicating hours to navigating red tape with her infectious enthusiasm. She motivates us to keep going even when dealt bitter blows.'

Ms Everett secured funding from QNI Scotland. 'It was obvious we needed dedicated premises,' says Mr Alexander. 'Ms Everett liaised with council officials to secure a derelict nursery. Driven by her can-do attitude, it was completely transformed.'

Cookery courses are among the options at the Shed, which also has polytunnels where the men grow fruit and vegetables.

'The Shed has changed lives,' says Mr Alexander. 'People have a reason to get up in the morning and face what used to be problems but now have become challenges.'

Ms Everett, who works at Govan Health Centre, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, says: 'The men worked so hard to transform the building, and its impact has been powerful. One told me he had gone four months without seeing someone before the Shed.'

Emeka Madubeze

D. Emeka Madubeze

Mental health nurse, Regis Healthcare

After being admitted to a secure unit, Zaynab Sohawon felt she was 'brought out of the darkness' due to the empathy and diligence of nurse Emeka Madubeze

'The care Emeka Madubeze showed me brought me out of the darkness and crafted me into the resilient and empowered individual I am today,' says Zaynab Sohawon, who was psychotic when she was admitted to a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services secure unit after attempting to take her own life. 'His innovative ideas have had a dramatically positive impact on my life.'

When Mr Madubeze became her named nurse, MsSohawon says she had no idea it was going to be the 'best thing to have happened' to her. 'I was shown empathy, patience and never-ending diligence. His gentleness, integrity and professionalism eased me into my journey to recovery.'

She says Mr Madubeze's perseverance and encouragement led her to successfully embrace physical exercise as a coping strategy.

'My mother says Mr Madubeze encouraged me to achieve recovery in a way that she, as a parent, never could and he always kept her informed of changes in my care. She says he always took the time to explain exactly what difficulties were perpetuating my mental illness and how best to approach me.'

Mr Madubeze, who works at Hill View Hospital, part of Regis Healthcare in Ebbw Vale, south Wales, says: 'I was really pleased but shocked to hear Zaynab had nominated me. When you do this kind of work you don't do it for nominations, you do it to support young people towards recovery and empower them to get on with their lives. You do it to help young people and their families.'

Victoria Wilson

E. Victoria Wilson

Nurse practitioner , The Healthcare Centre, Preston

Struggling with pain and trauma long after an accident, Nicola Davies felt she regained control with the support of nurse practitioner Victoria Wilson

A car accident changed Nicola Davies' life. Six years later she was still experiencing back problems, arthritis in her hip and chronic neuropathic pain, not to mention the psychological and social effects of the trauma.

'From the moment I met Victoria Wilson, I felt that she listened,' says Ms Davies, who is herself a nurse. 'And she looked at my case holistically, which was so refreshing. She showed courage in changing my medication. She gave me choices and I finally felt I had input into my care plan.

'She discussed my lifestyle and work shift patterns, along with my emotional status, before finding something that would fit into my life rather than me having to make more adaptations. I left that first consultation feeling much more positive and in control.'

And Ms Wilson followed up, regularly phoning her to see how the pain was and adapting medication accordingly. 'Whenever I have issues regarding my pain or my newly diagnosed Graves' disease I feel reassured that Victoria will be there to listen and act on the changes.'

Ms Wilson, a nurse practitioner at the Healthcare Centre general practice in Preston, Lancashire, says: 'Nursing is a profession where you get on with doing what you need to do - so even a thank you card is treasured. I was just doing my job.

'Nicola has been through so much. She's been incredibly brave and patient with each thing she has faced, so it is touching that she has taken the time to nominate me for this award.'