On 12 November more than 1,100 nursing professionals gathered at the Grosvenor House Hotel for the Nursing Times Awards, to hear which initiatives have inspired the nursing community over the last year.
This year, there were more than 800 entries from 346 organisations and a record number of people in attendance. It was an inspirational night, which honoured the amazing work that nurses carry out every day.
Helen Calveley, a Community Staff Nurse at Wirral Community NHS Trust, won the Rising Star Award, which was co-sponsored by NHS Professionals, NHS England and The Florence Nightingale Foundation. The Rising Star Award aims to recognise a nurse who has been qualified for less than five years, and demonstrates exceptional qualities that embody the best of nursing and the leadership skills to inspire others to follow their example.
We spoke to Helen, who has worked at the Trust for three and a half years, to find out more about the great work she has been doing and what her plans for the future are.
Hi Helen, how did it feel to win the Rising Star Award?
It was quite overwhelming, I felt very honoured. It was nice just to be nominated and was a strange feeling to win. The other candidates have done some interesting and fantastic things as well. Winning this award has encouraged me and I think it should encourage everybody else in the nursing profession as well.
What do you do at Wirral Community NHS Trust?
I am a Community Staff Nurse in a large team that delivers care to patients in their own home and in a clinic setting. I’ve also been seconded to do further studies within community nursing. The Trust is supporting me to do a specialist practice degree.
What made you want to go into community nursing?
Patient centred care in the home is most tailored to my personality, and that is where I want to be. I always wanted to do personalised care within the home and be able to do the things that you don’t necessarily have time to do when people are in hospital. When you are caring at home you have the time to focus on patient experience.
Could you tell me a little bit about your work?
Day to day, we prevent hospital admissions by treating wound and leg ulcers in clinics, managing complex patients, long-term conditions and end of life care. We also deliver IV antibiotics and catheter care, the list is endless. The most important thing is that we support patients and their carers to make sure they stay as independent and well in their own homes for as long as possible.
Why do you think you were nominated for the award?
I think I was nominated because of the work we do within our team. We are researching and talking about integrating our work with social care, which is what we see happening in the future. If we work together, we are going to get the best outcome for the patient.
Describe your typical day. Is it hard work?
Yes, but it is hard work nationwide. The beauty of it is that we get to visit patients who are housebound. We also have a supportive team behind us and we work well together, which may not relieve the pressure but it certainly helps. If you go into it as a team you never feel alone.
What is the best part of your job?
I think it is when we get good patient outcomes. I love it when something goes well and you are able to share what we have learnt with the rest of the team. But, even when something doesn’t go so well we are able to learn from it and improve. The best thing is seeing people and caring for them in their home where they feel most comfortable.
Are there any particular challenges to your job?
There are challenges in every aspect of my job but it’s how you tackle them that pushes you forward. Because we are caring in a home it can be challenging to deliver a high quality standard of care. We haven’t got things on hand like doctors or the equipment you want. Sometimes we have to be innovative and think of new ways to tackle certain problems in order to get the outcome we want for the patient.
Can you tell us a bit about new initiatives you’ve been involved with since you joined the team?
We make sure we have meetings with social care and residential care homes once a month. We go through the patients that they’ve got, if there are any new patients, we assess how they are managing their patients and whether they have all the necessary equipment. Communication is key so we can highlight any problems as early as possible to prevent them from progressing. It is important that we always pre-empt the kind of care that these patients are going to need. It is also a lot easier to go into the home and assist with the care when we are clear on what sort of care their patients require.
The end of life audit was a review that highlighted what individual patients wanted. I collated the information every week and reflected on what went well, and if something doesn’t go so well, why that was and how we can improve. This approach worked really well as it meant the patients got the choices and options they wanted.
We also trialled a number of leg ulcer initiatives, which have been a success, enabling a trust wide change in policy to ensure patients are getting the most up to date, evidence based care, in a timely manner.
How important is it that nurses are recognised for awards like this?
It is very important. Nurses do some fantastic things and nine times out of ten it’s the small things that are most appreciated. We don’t even do it for the awards, it is fantastic to win but, it’s the patient outcome that is most important. I’m not only accepting this award for me but for all nurses to say you can do it too!
Any advice for young nurses and students?
Go and do what interests you and do what you love, then you can fly with it and accomplish amazing things. I would like to say thank you to my team leader, who I wouldn’t have been able to do it without because she makes me seize opportunities. At the end of the day it’s all about the passion and compassion behind nursing that is important.
Congratulations Helen! NHS Professionals was extremely proud to sponsor the Rising Star category at this year’s Nursing Times Awards.