Meet the team that goes above and beyond for patients when they need it most | Latest news

Meet the team that goes above and beyond for patients when they need it most

Heather Gascoigne

A nurse who recently won an award for providing compassionate care for a distressed patient has highlighted the importance of the work of her team to ensure those who have additional needs are given exceptional care and their loved ones feel supported when accessing our services.

Heather Gascoigne is the Lead Nurse for Learning Disability and Neurodiversity, and her team offers additional support for patients with complex needs and vulnerabilities, as well as assisting their families and carers. The team is also on hand to help other colleagues to care for distressed patients and will do their best to make their experience as comfortable as possible and personalise care for individual patients.

Heather explained: "Sometimes, patients can find it difficult even just to enter our hospitals for their appointments, so we have to think outside of the box and get to know the patient before they come into hospital to help us tailor a way to make them comfortable while getting the care they need.

"For example, we can make reasonable adjustments to ensure that if a parent or carer needs to stay to support with communication or distressed behaviour, that can be made possible.

"We can also speak to the patient's community team and GP to see if there's anything we can do to relax them. We will also send them pictures of the hospital before their appointment so they are more prepared, and we can use an alternative entrance so they don’t have to be in busy spaces if they think that would help.

"We also ask that their hospital passport, which is a document that tells us more about them as a person, is completed so we can personalise their care."

An example of when Heather and her team have been able to make a real difference to the experience of a patient recently saw her presented with a Monthly Making a Difference Award.

Heather's compassion shone through when she was asked to assess and assist a patient with complex needs, who was already known to the team.

The patient was attending the A&E department at Royal Derby Hospital, and Heather quickly identified that a change in surroundings and the noise in the department would be difficult for the patient. Heather immediately began to put the patient at ease, while also providing support to their family and carers.

Heather went above and beyond to minimise the distress to the young, vulnerable, patient by finding a supported environment for them to be discharged to that evening in a bid to prevent the patient being readmitted to the department overnight.

As a result, a member of the Emergency Department nominated Heather to win the Excellent Employee Making a Difference Award.

Heather said: "It was so lovely to be recognised but I count myself lucky to be doing this job. The people I see are so grateful and I feel like myself and my team do get to make a difference. We just do what we can. We listen and if we don’t know the answer we will find someone who does.

"I have always liked helping people and the beauty of the team is we are not just there for the patient we are there for their loved ones too. We can be their voice and advocate for them when they don’t feel able to speak up or express their feelings."

It is this rewarding nature of the role that Heather takes so much from and what drives her to continue to make a difference to vulnerable people visiting our hospitals.

She explained: "It's not just the patients that need that support it is quite often the carer or parent so it’s a multi-pronged approach and we're also a great support for colleagues and can help avoid admissions in some cases so the service we provide is valued across the Trust. "

Heather is pictured with the Learning Disability and Neurodiversity Team, who are a vital part of the wider Safeguarding and Vulnerable People team at UHDB.

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