Colleagues gather to recognise positive impact Sarah has on both patients and her team | Latest news

Colleagues gather to recognise positive impact Sarah has on both patients and her team

Sarah Johnson, Colorectal Clinical Nurse Specialist, being presented with her award.

A clinical nurse specialist dedicated to making a difference to the life of patients undergoing treatment for cancer has been singled out by her colleagues for the innovative care she provides for patients and the compassionate leadership she gives to her team.

Sarah Johnson, Colorectal Clinical Nurse Specialist based at Queen's Hospital Burton, runs a specialist service to help relieve side effects of cancer and cancer treatment for around 200 patients a year.

Colleagues that work alongside Sarah also commented on how she guides the team and provides pastoral support through what can be challenging scenarios, highlighting the positive impact she makes on colleagues and patients alike.

Sarah has also worked to implement smoother, more efficient referral pathways for patients into the colorectal service and continues to coach, advise, and mentor other members of the team to share best practice - all on top of her core responsibilities as a clinical nurse specialist.

It is because of this that she was nominated for a Monthly Making a Difference Award, for which Sarah was chosen as our most recent winner in the Excellence category.

Sarah explained that her role sees her supporting patients who are undergoing treatment for cancer throughout their journey, as well as providing advice and support for their families and loved ones.

She said: "I always like to look after patients as if they were a member of my family, and some cases are more complex than others so it's all about making the care personal to the patient to best support them on their pathway.

"It can be challenging for staff too as they get to know patients, so I make sure I'm there for them to comfort them, but also to share my learning and skills with them - as I do with other cancer centres in the region."

As part of her role, Sarah runs a specialist paracentesis service for patients - and is the only colleague across the Trust to offer this service to cancer and palliative patients.

Paracentesis is a procedure carried out on patients who have ascites, which is the build up of fluid around the abdomen. It involves draining this fluid away, which can make patients feel very uncomfortable and is often a side effect of having cancer and / or cancer treatment.

After first hearing about this service on a study day, Sarah discovered that some patients were staying in our hospitals for an unnecessary length of time to have this procedure as an inpatient, but has since worked to be able to offer this as a day case procedure. This means patients get valuable time back to spend outside of the hospital, in addition to saving valuable resources and time and beds for patients that need them across the Trust.

Sarah explained: "When I first looked at some data about patients who were sometimes staying in hospital for up to a week for this procedure, which I carry out as a day case, I knew it was something I had to implement as I knew it would make a big difference.  

Most of these patients are receiving palliative care, so are coming towards the end of their lives, so to be able to perform this procedure to make them feel more comfortable, and not having to spend precious days in a hospital bed is amazing.

"I am really proud of what I've been able to do with this service."

Unbeknownst to her, Sarah was surprised recently when Mark Hill, Director of Nursing, joined her colleagues to recognise Sarah's work when presenting her with a Making a Difference Award, which left her "lost for words".

One of Sarah's colleagues said it was the perfect way to recognise the impact she has:

"It's so lovely to be able to recognise everything Sarah does for our team and our patients in this way. The whole team wanted to come along to this surprise presentation which tells you everything you need to know about Sarah.

"When everyone finds out about this, I'm sure they'll all celebrate and congratulate Sarah as she is absolutely amazing and so well respected."

Upon presenting Sarah with her award, Mark Hill, Director of Nursing said: "It is an absolute privilege to present you with this award and to recognise everything you do for your team and our patients.

"The fact that you spotted an area where we could do more to help cancer patients and took it upon yourself to scope out and implement the service says everything about you and your commitment to ensuring your patients are the heart of your work.

"Your team speak so highly of you, and I want to thank you for your compassion on behalf of everyone across the Trust."

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