'Inspirational' Dawn awarded Cavell Star for unwavering compassion | Latest news

'Inspirational' Dawn awarded Cavell Star for unwavering compassion

Dawn Wilkinson awarded Cavell Star

A Senior Sister whose unwavering care and compassion has touched the lives of patients on End of Life care has been recognised with a prestigious Cavell Star Award.

Dawn Wilkinson, Senior Sister on Ward 2 at Florence Nightingale Community Hospital, spends her days delivering palliative care to patients and supporting their families. 

During the summer, one of these families was that of Karen Hill who works as Lead Nurse for Professional Standards at Royal Derby Hospital.

Karen’s mum Chris was transferred to Ward 2 and said Dawn’s empathy and professionalism meant that when Chris passed away it was “relaxing and calm and a good death” for Chris and her family.

 The care and support the whole family received from Dawn and her team prompted Karen to nominate Dawn for the Cavell Star, a prestigious accolade in nursing.

Karen said: “When my mum's health deteriorated quite suddenly and her doctor told me she was at the end of her life and asked if there was there anything he could do for me, I requested that mum be transferred to  Ward 2, as I know Dawn and her team provide exceptional care in these emotional circumstances.

 “Mum liked peace and quiet and wanted nothing more to go to sleep and not wake up. In the busy acute wards, we could not really get any time to have the big conversations we needed to have.

“Once the doctor had requested a bed on Dawn's ward, mums transfer was very quick. As soon as mum was admitted she became calm and relaxed. She had her own room with a window view. She had lost all her sight but loved listening to the birds and windchimes in the garden. And we had those important conversations so we knew what was important for mum.”

Although Dawn was not on duty the day Chris was transferred to her ward that did not matter as Dawns standards were “completely embedded with all of her team.”

Karen said: “I talked a lot to Dawn's team. They all adore her. They talk about how she is the best ward sister they have ever worked with. They describe her as a team player, an educator, a leader and a patient advocate and her standards are world class.

“Mum felt the cold badly due to her medical condition so the staff wrapped mum in a fleeced blanket that had been donated to the ward. A beautiful touch, mum told me she felt safe. Mum was prepared to die but she had been scared. She told me Dawn had been in to see her and she was not scared anymore. Dawn had reassured her about what was to come.

“The tranquility Dawn had created on the ward was perfect. For the next few days, whatever time of the day or night I visited, it was the same. For me this was especially important. I knew one of the biggest changes I would every experience was coming, but I needed consistency.

“I felt cared for by the team too. All of my needs were catered for and I watched as other visitors and families received the same level of care and attention as me. This is what Sister Dawn's ward is all about- the feeling among them is they only have one chance to get this right.”

Karen said Dawn talked to both her mum and herself separately about what Chris was likely to go through and made no assumptions of Karen’s knowledge because she is a nurse.

She said: “Every time I returned to mum's room I could see the team had been in to check, turn and tuck her in. As mum worsened the team balanced providing care and support with allowing me some privacy and precious time with mum. Dawn and her team made my mums passing relaxing and calm and a good death for my mum and for me and my family.”

The Cavell Star award recognises nurses, midwives, nursing associates and healthcare assistants who show exceptional care to their colleagues, their patients and their patients’ families.

Garry Marsh, Executive Chief Nurse, said Dawn has demonstrated these values in abundance, when he presented Dawn with the award, alongside Karen, Mike Goodwin, Divisional Director of Cancer, Diagnostics and Clinical Support, Grace Pearn, Director of AHP’s and Sue Chambers, Deputy Divisional Nurse Director for Cancer, Diagnostics and Clinical Support.

Garry said: "Karen wanted to recognise Dawn not just for what she has given to the profession over time but what she has given to her as an individual. The standards Dawn showcases daily are exactly what we would expect from all colleagues and the exceptional care and compassion she has shown to patients and their families is undeniable.

"What is even more impressive is how her core values are displayed throughout the team at all times.”

Karen echoed Garry’s words and said “Dawn is without exception the nurse you would want to care for you.”

She added: “Dawn is very humble and will say she has done nothing special, but what she did for my mum and me and my family, she does every single day for hundreds of patients and families. Dawn's nurturing ability of her team will make a massive difference and staff will hopefully carry the same standards and leadership abilities. She is a motivational, inspiring and compassionate nurse and there is no doubt in my mind that if I needed End of Life care, I would want Dawn and her team to provide this.

Dawn said she is incredibly proud to win the award and thanked her team.

She said: “It is not often I am lost for words but I am so touched by what Karen said and this award means so much. I work with an amazing team and I love what I do.”