Project RETAIN Celebration Awards

In 2017 the Public Health Agency (PHA) was successful in securing a grant for ‘Project RETAIN’ from the Burdett Trust for Nursing.

The funding supported an innovative regional initiative in partnership with local Health and Social Care Trusts, the Department of Health, Age NI and nurse education providers. The aim of Project RETAIN was to improve nurse retention and recruitment in care of older people’s settings in Northern Ireland.

On Wednesday 24th October the project’s successes were showcased and celebrated at an event in Antrim. The ward that participated within the SEHSCT were Ward 3b Ulster Hospital and Ward 14 Lagan Valley Hospital.

Gillian McCorkell, RETAIN Project Lead at the PHA, said: “Peer facilitators from Age NI engaged with nursing staff on wards and with students undertaking their pre-registration training, to deliver a series of action learning sets which focused on the core issues that matter to older people who are receiving nursing care.

“When we first launched Project RETAIN, there were a total of 47 band 5 vacant staff nursing posts across the ten wards that participated in the project. Whilst there are still some vacancies, this has significantly reduced by 66% to 16 vacant posts. Staff satisfaction has also significantly improved in the majority of the wards that participated.

Working in partnership, utilising a co-production model with Age NI, ensured that the voice and experience of older people was central to the future of nursing and older people are supporting the development of a competent and stable nursing workforce for the ageing population.”

A number of nursing staff from Ward 3b Ulster Hospital were winners at the award ceremony the event. These were:

Michelle Mullin – Nursing Assistant Award

This award was open to all Nursing Assistants who worked as part of the nursing team in any of the Retain wards. Michelle’s nominator stated from the start of the project Michelle has totally immersed herself in striving to improve patient care by:

• Attending training organised through Retain on Infection Control and acts as a role model to other staff ensuring full compliance. She monitors closely patient’s nutritional intake and has developed a new record chart detailing much more clearly a patient’s intake at each meal.

• Developed an activity programme for patients which she co-ordinates each week. E.g. Mini golf, darts, sing-a-longs and other activities.

• Committed to improvement and personal development. She has attended training via Retain but also source independently. She has always gained learning from each session. She is now commencing her K117 course with the Open University.

Pictured: Michelle Mullin winner of Nursing Assistant Award.

Kathy McMullan – Band 5 Staff Nurse Award

This award was open to all Band 5 staff nurses who have contributed to the success of Project Retain and have motivated others to improve patient care and co-production on older people’s services. Kathy’s nominator stated:

“Kathy acts as a role model for new starts, sharing her experiences as a newly qualified staff nurse and helps support them in their new role. Her own personality and enthusiasm motivated others by actively listening to them and supporting them. She puts patients at the centre of everything she does. She builds up a relationship with them and their families, acts as an advocate for patients within the multi-disciplinary team, challenging decisions to ensure safe and effective person-centred care. She genuinely shows passion for older person care and is going to complete her specialist practice in older person care this September through Queens University Belfast.”

Pictured: Kathy McMullan winner of band 5 staff Nurse Award

Lesley Graham - Band 7 Leadership in Nursing Award

Lesley recognised that the Retain project presented a unique opportunity to provide structured support and facilitate incremental improvement within the ward. Using the key principles of Project Retain, Lesley and her team created a new shared vision for the ward which reflected a desire to provide the highest quality, compassionate care or the older person but also sought to develop a new culture within the ward which placed the development and valuing staff at its core. Leading by example Lesley embraced each stage of the project.

Historically Ward 21 and more recently 3b had experienced significant problems in relation to retention and recruitment of staff. Moving forward and on a very positive note the most telling aspect of the last 12 months is that Lesley has currently a full complement of staff with only one resignation. Lesley is really proud of her team and together with her deputy sister/charge nurse they make sure that every member of staff feel valued, ensure their training and development needs are met which has contributed to delivering high quality and compassionate care.

Pictured: Lesley Graham  joint winner of the Band 7 Leadership Award.

Ward 3b Ulster Hospital – Overall Team Winners

The team recognised that Project Retain presented a unique opportunity for time out, structured support and facilitated incremental improvement within the ward. Ward Champions were quickly identified and working established within the ward. Through self-reflection and facilitated support with the Retain Project lead the team identified areas for improvement and behaviours within the ward having a detrimental effect on the team. Each member of the team was provided with an opportunity to share their experience and to identify solutions moving forward.

While this at times was a difficult and challenging process for the team, they recognised that this level of transparency was required to move forward. Using the key principles of Project Retain the team created a new shared vision for the ward which reflected a desire to provide the highest quality, compassionate care for the older person but also sought to develop a new culture within the ward which placed the development and valuing staff at its core.

New and innovative initiatives have been introduced within the ward which have improved the experience for the older person on the ward but lifted morale such as the ‘Forget me Not’ pop up café. The team have also developed breakout areas where distraction and reminiscent therapies such as mini golf, Belfast bus stop, bingo and pet therapy.

Historically ward 21 and more recently Ward 3b had experienced significant problems in relation to retention and recruitment of staff. Moving forward on a very positive note the most telling aspect of the last 12 months is that the ward currently has a full complement of staff and one band 5 resignation for that period.

Pictured: Staff from Ward 3b ( joint overall winners of the team award ) and ward 14 Lagan Valley Hospital.

Other Finalists from the SEHSCT were:

June Cairns, Ward 14, Lagan Valley Hospital. (Band 7 Leadership in Nursing Award)

Ellen Morton, Queens University Belfast Student Nurse, Ward 3b Ulster Hospital. (Student Nurse Award)

Katrina Leathem, Ward 3b, Ulster Hospital. (Band 6 Inspiring Excellence in Older People’s Nursing Award)