12 May 2019

Specialist nurses talk about their roles to mark International Nurses’ Day 2019

International Nurses’ Day is held every year on May 12th, the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, and celebrated around the world.

There are now a wide range of roles within nursing, with many nurses taking on specialist roles and developing specific areas of expertise.

The Chief Nurse at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Chris Morley, said: “There is a real diversity of roles and opportunities within nursing, which is perfectly illustrated here at STH, with a huge variety of activities undertaken by nurses in a wide range of settings.

“We have fantastic nurses working in the community, across our hospitals and in patients’ own homes, with patients and their families benefitting from their compassion, care, knowledge and expertise.

“International Nurses’ Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the vital role of nurses, and thank them for all the work they do here in Sheffield and across the world.”

Some of the specialist nurses working in Sheffield have given an insight into their roles and how they make a difference to patients.

Emma Foster, Ataxia Nurse Specialist

“I have been a part of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals for over 16 years, having worked as a staff nurse and sister within the spinal injuries unit at the Northern General to now working within the specialist nursing team in neurology at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

“I worked for many years as a nurse specialist in Multiple Sclerosis, and I now specialise in the field of progressive ataxias. This is a small team who support patients from all over the country with forms of cerebellar ataxia, which is a condition which causes difficulties with balance and coordination.

“I run clinics at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital and at Chesterfield Royal Hospital, along with providing a lot of telephone support for patients. I help organise appropriate care, housing adaptations, therapy and support for our patients to help their independence and quality of life. A lot of my time is spent supporting patients and relatives with the emotional burden of living with a long term condition and helping them to adjust and live well knowing how their life could be affected and change over time.

“I am so proud to be part of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, I have always felt it is a very inclusive organisation that supports its staff and has the patient at the forefront of everything it does. We are pioneers in research and improving the lives of people in Sheffield and surrounding areas. We have such a vast amount of expertise within our workforce which is very apparent within the specialism of neurology where I am based.

“I would like to think that my patients can feel supported and cared for from the help that I give to them. Developing a neurological condition can be very overwhelming and frightening, particularly if you know that it is likely to progress over time.

“If I can support my patients to manage their symptoms well and reduce the burden of the symptoms as much as possible, then they can live better. If I can help my patients to understand their condition and know the implications of what it means, then they can live with confidence and understanding of what to do and where to turn when things might change in the future. If I can provide a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen, then my patients and their loved ones feel supported and listened to and know that we are behind them.”

Liam Rice, Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Nurse Specialist

“I have worked for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals for over 20 years and am currently based at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

“Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an immune mediated disease of the central nervous system which has no cure. Although no-one understands the exact cause of this illness, doctors believe that in susceptible individuals something triggers the immune system to attack the brain and spinal cord, leading to inflammation and degeneration resulting in disability.

“In my role as an MS Nurse Specialist, I provide help and support to people affected with MS, from initial early diagnosis, to treatment choices and on-going support to both patients and their families.

“I work within a team of seven MS Nurses, all of whom have individual expertise which is used to treat this very challenging condition.

“I like to think that in my time here, I have played my part in making the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals one of the best Trusts in the UK. I, just like many others, aim to deliver excellent care with a high level of expertise and continuity. As well as this, I make a difference to my patients by trying to provide humanity and a space that allows them to be heard.”

Dr. Amanda Jones- Stroke Nurse Consultant and Clinical Lead for the Stroke Pathway

“Working at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals has been a privilege and enabled me to truly follow my heart in putting patients and their families first, and has supported me to continue to develop both my skills and knowledge, with the ultimate aim of providing the highest quality of care to stroke patients.

“I have worked for many years in stroke services, firstly as a staff nurse and ward manager and then as a stroke specialist nurse, and then became the first Nurse Consultant in the Trust in 2000, and the first Stroke Nurse Consultant nationally.

I have always been interested in pushing boundaries and developing new innovative services and roles, to further improve the quality of care for both stroke patients and their families.

“My role has developed beyond recognition since its inception, and crosses from the hospital into the community. It involves education and training, expert practice, service development and research.

“I also have the additional role of Clinical Lead for the stroke pathway, which has enabled me to further develop the evidenced based stroke pathway. I have been fully engaged not only in local work but also developing national clinical guidelines and strategy for stroke care.

“I have always strived to develop academically, and I carried out my own research in supporting stroke patients and carers in their long term recovery as part of my Clinical Doctorate.

“Working in stroke involves a strong team effort with specialist therapists, nurses and medical staff, working in close collaboration. One of the highlights was working with the Sheffield Hospitals Charity to organise an event called ‘Strokely Come Dancing’ where staff came together with patients and families to raise significant funds to further improve patient experience.

“I continue to be really proud of being a nurse in the NHS, and I really want to continue to inspire and encourage new nurses to come into the profession.”

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