A group of Devon care home nurses have won the Nursing Team of the Year prize at the annual GP Awards for their ‘innovative’ approach to raising standards at local care homes.
The nursing team was celebrated alongside other high achievers in general practice at a ceremony in London last night.
The Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust has developed a ‘constantly evolving, innovative and proactive service’ in which they prepare, deliver and evaluate free, evidenced-based education, training and support to care home, supported-living accommodation and domiciliary care staff within North Devon.
The team is made up of nurse educators and a safeguarding nurse, as well as paramedics and an occupational therapist.
The aim of the team is to ‘improve the quality of life, death and healthcare for some of the most vulnerable in our society’, with a focus on quality and partnership working as the driving factor for change.
Since the introduction of the service in 2012, the compassion, dedication and commitment of the care homes team has proved itself as a beneficial and essential service.
The number of avoidable admissions to hospital from care homes in the area has declined, as care home staff competence has increased following training provided by the team.
Similarly, the amount of safeguarding enquiries in care homes has fallen and communication between services has improved.
Recruitment and retention of the care home staff have also picked up, with the team helping to ‘move the community nursing service further into proactive management of care’.
The Devon team were accoladed at the awards ceremony for their compassion and drive to constantly evolve and improve the service they provide.
In addition to devising and delivering 14 education packages on an annual basis to care homes in North Devon, they also offer a contingency planning service, a quarterly newsletter containing useful information and guidance, and opportunities for the services to showcase their work.
In addition the team facilitate an annual conference with national and local experts to share their skills and knowledge.
Sonia Hall, owner and registered manager of Oaklands Residential Care Home said: ‘When I first heard about this team and what they were going to offer to care homes I was delighted to get our care home involved.
‘I started to book training with the experienced nurses/OT. Their knowledge is brilliant and their communication skills fantastic. They make the training sessions very enjoyable, friendly and non-patronising. As it is delivered in a very informal manner, staff feel confident to participate and ask questions without being judged.
‘I feel very proud of my staff as they listened to all the advice provided and were able to follow up. We had a 100-year-old resident who was with us for 10 months and for the last 8 months she became very poorly and was in palliative care, which ended up in her being bed-bound. My staff were able to identify and prevent any signs of pressure sores. As soon as any changes were noticed on this resident’s skin, it was reported to the seniors, district nurses were contacted, the right creams were applied and a two-hourly turning chart was put in place.
‘When I started as a registered manager, I used to feel very isolated with no resources freely available to gain guidance. Nowadays I feel much more supported and with a sense of belonging to a lovely group with the same aim as to provide the best care possible to all our residents.’
Nursing in Practice editor, David Swan, said at the ceremony: ‘It’s a fantastic showcase of the impact nurses are having in primary and community care, and I’m delighted we were able to celebrate their incredible efforts tonight. It can sometimes seem difficult to find positive stories like this around the nursing profession, because they have a tendency to get buried beneath the constant struggles over getting a deserved pay rise, or yet another story on declining numbers of nurses in general practice. This award is a great vehicle for putting the unsung work of communiyt nurses front and centre.’
Other winners at this year’s General Practice Awards included Professor Aneez Esmail, who won the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work battling against racial discrimination in the NHS, and Dr Karen Brown, a single-handed GP from Nottinghamshire, who won the GP of the Year prize.