Justine Irish

Matron for Medically Fit for Discharge Wards

Being a matron on a brand new innovative project would be daunting for anyone. Yet this was an opportunity that Justine Irish grabbed with both hands.

Eight months after the Medically Fit for Discharge (MFFD) wards were opened at Rowley Regis and City Hospitals Justine, 42, remains committed to their aim of providing high quality care for people who are waiting to be transferred home with care packages or waiting for a residential home bed.

She said: “I was excited by the prospect of working with people committed to improving the quality of the patient’s journey through the Trust.

“MFFD is still in its infancy and we still have much to learn from our community colleagues but we can really see a difference already. Together we have identified a bespoke model where all patients have very individualised care.

“We have activities such as craft sessions, cinema room and singing evenings. It really is nice to able to invest that little bit more in our patients. Some have had months in hospital after feeling very unwell, so they can be quite surprised by the level of activity that we provide and with our very flexible visiting times, relatives have been able to be more involved in discharge plans.”

The wards are doing so well that they were recently nominated for a Kate Granger Compassionate Care award, a career highlight for Justine. She added: “Being shortlisted for the Kate Granger Compassionate Care award this year was a huge achievement. My teams have worked hard for that recognition.”

Justine, from Oldbury, has also worked hard for her recognition. After leaving school with few qualifications, she found a love of nursing through working in a nursing home and 16 years later has risen through the ranks to become Matron.

She said: “I left school with hardly any exams and did not think education was particularly important. I started working in a Nursing Home and to my surprise I loved it, so 16 years ago I applied for a job at Dudley Road Hospital as an Auxiliary Nurse.

“From that moment on I was supported to go to college two evenings a week for two years to gain the A Levels I needed to train to be a nurse, once I completed that the Trust seconded me to do my training and I have never looked back! Every qualification I now have I have gained with support from the Trust, including my degree.”

Sixteen years on Justine still loves her job. She said: “What I enjoy most about my job is seeing my teams being so proud of the service we have all set up. I include nurses, doctors, therapists and discharge teams in this.

“We have all worked so hard over the last eight months and seeing how proud they all are and seeing our patients’ faces when they are discharged having completed their journey in a lovely environment is what makes me happy.”

Outside of work Justine spends time with husband Paul and eight year old daughter Amelia-May, as well as occasionally treating herself to a shopping trip to Selfridges.