Star Staff at NHS Forth Valley

A family’s thanks for giving an old soldier a ‘fitting send-off ‘ helped hospital porter Alec Souter win the Unsung Hero Award in the 2019 NHS Forth Valley Staff Awards. The poignant story, from a family whose father died the following morning, told how Alec, a keen piper, had been entertaining patients in a corridor in Ward B21 at Forth Valley Royal Hospital. When told that one patient, a former Sergeant in the Scots Guards had not long to live, he checked with staff that it was ok to continue playing. They spoke to the family who invited him into the patient’s room and asked him to continue playing by his bedside. After a rendition of Heilan’ Laddie and Highland Cathedral, which the family say brought tears to their eyes, the two men saluted each other. This act of kindness represents just one of many displayed by Alec, who has also played at the wedding of a terminally ill patient. He regularly forfeits his work breaks to strike up a tune, and makes sure he is on duty on Christmas Day so the skirl of the pipes can spread an extra drop of festive cheer amongst those still in hospital.

Another personal kindness earned Theresa Connor, a Senior Charge Nurse for Learning Disabilities in NHS Forth Valley, the Helen Kelly Award, a new award in memory of a former NHS Forth Valley Director of HR. Theresa helped a 42 year old man with aggressive cancer to fulfil an item on his ‘bucket list’ which was to sing in a choir. Theresa, who is a member of NHS Forth Valley’s Nurses Choir, arranged for the patient to sing with the Nurses Choir in the atrium of Forth Valley Royal Hospital in front of his friends and family – an event he described as one of the best experiences in his life.

Care ‘in the spirit of Florence Nightingale’ and a moving description of how staff helped a youngster under 16 who was extremely distressed were just two of the plaudits received for the nursing team at Lochview who collected the Outstanding Care Award. One nomination described how the young man was moved to an area of safety in the multi-sensory room with “incredible care in a loving and sensitive manner” which meant he was able to return home just four days later. Another family applauded the team for their endless commitment to people with severe learning difficulties and for making a very difficult job look easy and fun.

Making a difference for patients with hip and knee problems earned a multi-disciplinary team the Innovation Award. Working together with GP practices the new ‘Best in Class’ initiative has resulted in more than a 10% reduction in referrals to orthopaedic services. A special exercise class in Clackmannanshire, where the initiative started, was recently filmed by the BBC after it was highlighted as an example of best practice in a recent Audit Scotland report on primary care. People who have benefited from the tailored information and fitness classes have also told their stories in a people’s panel and taken part in videos to help promote the scheme which is now

being rolled out to other areas in Forth Valley. The initiative has attracted interest from other NHS Boards and Health and Social Care Partnerships across Scotland.

The winner of the 2019 Inspiration Award is NHS Forth Valley Community Food Development Worker, Wendy Handley, for her outstanding work with people in prisons across Forth Valley. A dietetics and nutrition professional, Wendy has supported nearly 200 prisoners to achieve a formal qualification through her programme of practical cooking skills, eating well on a budget and health and nutrition training. Examples of her approach include persuading a young man who did not like vegetables to try a red pepper, and demonstrating how to make a cottage pie which evoked memories of much loved ‘grannies’ and helped prisoners to share their feelings.

More than 15,000 children across Forth Valley have communication difficulties which are sometimes due to conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and learning difficulties. NHS Forth Valley’s Children’s Speech and Language Therapy Team, who won the Top Team Award for Clinical Services, have received national recognition for helping children with language skills. Within the last 12 months they have highlighted their work and approach to improvement in London, Cardiff and Belfast. A project to improve spoken language in a number of local communities revealed that many children had made 16 months progress in vocabulary in just over eight months, successfully closing the gap for some of the most vulnerable youngsters. The Top Team Award for Support Services was won by NHS Forth Valley’s HR Recruitment Team which has supported a number of important projects during the year including the introduction of a new national HR recruitment system and the ongoing development of a new local HR helpdesk and online Hub.

The recipients of this year’s Chairman’s Award are the healthcare team at HMP Glenochil for their drive and leadership in developing palliative and end of life care within the prison. Increasingly prisoners with terminal conditions are asking to stay in prison for end of life care and staff have developed new ways of working to support this. Only recently a gentleman was able to die where he wished, in his cell. The nomination says their achievement is the envy of prison healthcare teams across Scotland.

Volunteers who support patients with hearing aids have received the Volunteer Award. They run sessions in Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire and at times see up to 90 patients in three hours. Their open sessions are the only ones of their kind in Scotland and provide urgent help for hearing aid issues thus avoiding unnecessary waits for appointments. The team have also delivered training in basic hearing aid maintenance and care to nursing and support staff so they are able to identify issues with hearing aids in wards and care homes.

NHS Forth Valley Chairman, Alex Linkston, who presented the awards said: “The Staff Awards recognise the hard work, care and commitment of staff and volunteers across the organisation. I am delighted to say we received almost 400 entries this year, which is a great achievement and I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to submit a nomination. These local awards are really important as they help demonstrate how much the efforts of our staff are really appreciated by colleagues and patients alike.”