RCN Nurse of the Year Award Winners 2019


Congratulations to our nurses who won awards at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year Awards 2019 held recently at the Culloden Hotel, Holywood.

Siobhan Brady, Health Facilitator and Aoife Mills, Community Learning Disability Nurse working within disability services at the Downshire Hospital, won the Learning Disability Award.

Obesity is a serious public health concern, particularly when combined with a sedentary lifestyle, and is a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Across the UK, around 40% of adults with a learning disability are obese, due to a combination of high calorific intake, lower levels of physical activity, the use of psychotropic medication and genetic disposition. This can lead, in turn, to depression and enhanced social discrimination. Within the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust area, 66% of adults with a learning disability are recorded as overweight or obese. Siobhan and Aoife set out to improve the health, well-being and lifestyles of people with a learning disability through a 12-week programme involving weekly weight monitoring, interactive information sessions and a dance exercise class, working in partnership with a local sports and recreation group, as well as securing funding through the trust’s Health Development Department. Aiming to recruit 17-20 identified individuals, 32 people actually signed up for the first session. Interventions were developed and refined by Siobhan and Aoife through listening to individual participants and seeking feedback from families and carers. The success of the first programme between September and December 2018 can be measured by the fact that 62% of participants lost weight, as well as through positive feedback from participants, their families and carers, and evidence of improved mental health outcomes. A second programme is now underway and is being piloted by the trust as a safety, quality and improvement initiative. The judging panel recognised clear evidence of person-centred care, the involvement of users in service design and delivery, and improved health outcomes for people with a learning disability.

Pictured (L-R) are: Professor Owen Barr, Siobhan Brady and Aoife Mills who won the Learning Disability Award and Pat Cullen, RCN

Sheena Stothers, Clinical Nurse Specialist for Complex Skin Cancer, was runner-up in the Cancer Nurse Award, sponsored by Macmillan Cancer Support.

In 2008, Sheena was appointed as the first complex skin cancer clinical nurse specialist in Northern Ireland. She has established, led and is constantly developing the service to ensure its responsiveness to changing patient needs. Referrals to the service have doubled over the last decade to around 230 patients each year. The innovations introduced by Sheena include a nurse-led telephone clinic to inform patients of the results of diagnostic tests and investigations, also requesting radiology investigations to facilitate effective coordination of the patient pathway. Education and encouraging patient self-management are key objectives for Sheena, reflected in the establishment of holistic needs assessment clinics and health and well-being events. She has also, through her own initiative, successfully secured funding through a Florence Nightingale Travel Scholarship in order to research new clinical pathways and services that she is now in the process of helping to establish in Northern Ireland. Sheena’s nominator writes: “She embraces the challenge of a growing and evolving service with strong leadership, tenacity and motivation, by identifying new ways of working through holistic and patient-centred initiatives”. The judging panel was impressed with Sheena’s capacity to equip and empower patients through self-management, her commitment in travelling to identify research practice innovations which could then be introduced in Northern Ireland, and her belief in the need to communicate with and inform patients in a variety of ways, including through social media.

Pictured (L-R) are: Heather Monteverde, Macmillan Cancer Support, Sheena Stothers who was runner-up in the Cancer Nurse Award and Pat Cullen, RCN