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The Arches District Nursing Team Win One of Nursing’s Top Accolades

13th November 2023

The Arches District Nursing Team was announced as the winner of the Patient’s Choice category at the RCN Nursing Awards at the ceremony in Liverpool Cathedral on 10th November.

The team whose compassionate, holistic care has helped keep a patient with a rare disease out of hospital has been chosen by the public to receive one of nursing’s most prestigious awards.

The Patient’s Choice Award gives the public a chance to thank a nurse or nursing team for exceptional and life-changing care. The Arches District Nursing Team was nominated by Janette Connor and they received thousands of votes from the public.

Ms Connor, has a rare disease Behçet’s syndrome, which causes her to have more than 200 skin ulcers that are dressed daily. She said the nurses have transformed her life in the past two years.

“My nurses look after other elements of my physical care, such as my Hickman line. But they also advocate for me – they are my voice when I’m too overwhelmed to speak for myself. I’m not a complex case when I’m with them, but a person who has good days and bad, hopes and goals.”

Before she was under their care, Ms Connor was referred to A&E for skin infections multiple times a month, even though at the time she only had a few ulcers. In one year, the former teacher of children with special needs spent close to 200 nights in hospital, significantly impacting her relationships and mental health.

Ms Connor explained the impact the team’s care has had on her life,

“Since this team has taken over, I’ve had one unplanned hospital admission in two years. The disease is more active than ever, but I can now work from home and spend time with friends and family. When I had to go into hospital, my nurses understood my anxiety and contacted all the appropriate people to ensure a smooth transition.

My family are reassured that I’m getting such great care at home. They can see the team has given me back my dignity and self esteem. One friend recently said I’ve gotten my spark back, lost during so much time in hospital.”

It is the team’s holistic approach that has made such a difference. Ms Connor said,

“The district nurses have gone above and beyond getting to know me as a person, my needs and what is important to me.

Last year was one of the hardest, and the nurses listened, gave me space to cry, were a listening ear and even brought flowers and chocolates after a rough week. They have also celebrated successes and milestones.

They have worked past the end of a shift so I could shower after a hospital admission. They knew I’d feel much better about myself. Life with this disease can be pretty hard sometimes, and people tend to give up, but the district nurses haven’t. Instead, they show up with a smile and a Netflix recommendation.

Without them, my only option would be a long-term inpatient stay. Instead, they have given me a quality of life I’ve not had in years. Most of all, they’ve given me hope, encouraged me to live my life to the fullest and allowed me to make the most of opportunities despite living with this awful condition. I know that with this team of nurses in my corner, everything will be ok.”

Team lead Orla Glennon says the district nurses are shocked and delighted to have won.

She added: “Just to be nominated was an honour. It is quite something to publicly hear the positive impact we can have on a patient’s life and overall wellbeing. In these challenging times in nursing, we are still able to provide professional holistic care.

Winning this award is surreal, especially as the other nominees are all so worthy of an award. I have a fantastic team that delivers exceptional care on a daily basis in circumstances that can be difficult and highly emotional. To have this recognised is incredible.

District nursing is very often an invisible workforce, with the public and even our colleagues in hospital not fully understanding what we do so to raise the profile of district nursing by winning this award is amazing.”

Ms Connor is delighted her nurses have been recognised. ‘The nomination was highlighted in local media and on social media and got people talking about district nursing. They make such a huge difference to me and my life would be so different without them.

It has raised awareness of the disease itself and how we have to live with it, for which I am grateful.

And my amazing nurses are still here every day, lifting me, being my second mummies. They so deserve this award.”