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Apr 11th 2016

Brilliant nurse offered opportunity to win brilliant award

A colorectal nurse here at SWBH has become the only healthcare professional from the West Midlands to be nominated for a highly sought-after nursing award.

Kelly Stackhouse, Lead Nurse of the FINCH Service, has been shortlisted for the prestigious Nurse of the Year (Patient Choice Award) at the Royal College of Nursing Nurse Awards, and after starting her own Trust-wide service from scratch, this nomination feels like the cherry on top of a brilliant couple of years. Her work leads her to patients who are suffering from all kinds of bowel issues, and she spends her days seeing and treating people in clinic, managing her team, or sometimes she’s simply a listening ear for those who feel isolated by their conditions.

Her nomination came from a heartfelt write-up from one of her patients, and for Kelly this is one of the best parts about the award itself. Tom Owen was suffering with rectal cancer when Kelly and her team were treating him, and he owes a lot to them. “I could not have survived without them,” he writes in his nomination. “I firmly believe that there are tens of thousands of people in the country who are ‘suffering in silence’ through these sorts of problems. Thankfully, this specialist team at SWBH has alleviated the misery of many incontinence sufferers in the area. There should be more hospitals in the country that deal with this specialism. As I understand it, there are very few, if any, medical people dealing with this embarrassing medical condition in other areas of the country. And Kelly is selfless and brilliant. She leads from the front and deserves recognition.”

The FINCH (Faecal Incontinence and Chronic Constipation Healthcare) Service at SWBH was Kelly’s brainchild, and while faeces may be a very taboo subject for some, there’s nothing that interests Kelly more.

“It’s something that’s always been interesting to me – how things down there work, or often don’t work!” she explains. “And since it is something that lots of people don’t like to talk about, I think it’s so important to have created a space where it’s absolutely okay to come in and share experiences and suggestions with one another without any fear or judgment is essential. I got into this job originally because I wanted to help people and I strive to improve people’s quality of life every day. We aren’t here to cure because you can’t return things to how they were, but we can listen and advise and help people get back into society if their issue has isolated them for a long time.”

“It makes you so much more appreciative of what you do for patients,” she says. “It may seem like all you’re doing is offering a simple suggestion to a person, but it can impact their lives in ways we can’t see or know. Incontinence issues can be so socially isolating and to know you’ve helped someone get their life back even a little bit makes what I do worth it.”

“I’m very honoured to have been shortlisted because the award is so massive – it’s like the Oscars in nursing terms! It means so much that a patient took their time and gratitude and wanted to turn it into something positive for myself. But I have to say that this award is a team effort. The service is still only small – there are only three of us at the moment – and my colleagues Elizabeth Clarson and Jodie Smith are invaluable.”

The next step for Kelly is to work with the Black Country Alliance (a partnership between SWBH, The Dudley Group NHS Trust and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust) in preparation for the service to go region-wide. Their aim is to extend the team so they can be seeing patients across the West Midlands by the summer, so it’s looking to be a very busy few months for Kelly and her team!

If the West Midlands wants to see their representative win this prestigious national award, vote now! To vote for her as Nurse of the Year, visit the website: https://secure.rcni.com/nurse-awards/patients-choice-voting.asp. Voting is open between Monday 4th April and Friday 29th April.


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