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Fab Change Week

13 November 2017


As part of the national Fab Change Week between 13 and 17 November, a number of James Paget University Hospital success stories are being highlighted.

The week aims to drive positive change in the NHS and improvements in patient care, away from political issues around funding and staffing. It aims to illustrate the difference individual staff can make by one simple act that can often be translated into wider organisational learning and improve the service provided to patients, in some cases also making a financial saving and using resources more effectively. 

Throughout this week we will be highlighting some of the developments which aim to give our patients a better stay and their families the support and comfort needed at a difficult time. You’ll hear about our VIP Pathway to look after vulnerable adults, the work of staff looking after patients with dementia, the provision of support to end-of-life patients and their families, and how volunteers are supporting the work of hospital staff.

Today we start by looking at the work of our award-winning team who look after patients with learning disabilities, autism and dementia.


Earlier this month the team (pictured) won a national Nursing Times award for their innovative way of treating vulnerable people coming into the hospital for surgery.

The VIP Pathway ‘you are important to us’ is designed to provide a seamless and personalised approach to ensure vulnerable adults admitted for theatre procedures are looked after at every stage. Staff at the hospital work closely with family carers and community colleagues to make the experience for those with learning disabilities and/ or autism and dementia as caring and comfortable as possible.
Prior to the Pathway being put in place some theatre cases were cancelled at the anaesthetic phase due to patient anxiety. The pathway means family members and carers are invited into anaesthetic and recovery rooms as standard, that there is the opportunity to visit in advance of the appointment, and that packs are given to familiarise the patient with what they may see during their visit.

Rebecca Crossley, Learning Disabilities & Autism Specialist Nurse, said; “From the moment an individual is identified as needing hospital services the team will set up and plan every part of the person’s admission and treatment through to discharge. We discuss with the family, carers and patients what their requirements are, with a pre-operative planning meeting to meet staff involved in the operation. Staff are supported by the Trust’s Learning disability team and dementia team and the aim is to let family and carers know that there is extra support to prevent distressed or anxious moments.
“The feedback has consistently been that patients are more settled and family carers feel reassured as they are able to stay with their loved ones.”
Last year the VIP Pathway saw a saving of £56,000 through the reduction in theatre cancellations but, more importantly, patients can be looked after and their families supported through the process.
The initiative was nominated for a national Nursing Times award and, at the beginning of November at a ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London, the team and the pathway beat tough competition from across the country, to win the Learning Disabilities Nursing category.

This was one of two awards presented in the past few months.

Dementia Care Liasion Nurse Sarah Hay won ‘Employee of the Year’ at the James Paget University Hospital’s Remarkable People Awards held in October. One of the key factors in her being selected as winner was a detailed nomination by the husband of a dementia patient. He said; “I first met Sarah together with my wife in 2013, when my wife had just been diagnosed with Frontal Temporal Dementia (FTD)… My professional background encouraged me to research and validate, via the internet, what we had been told and to find the best way forward. I soon discovered that information on FTD was scant to say the least…

“I found myself floundering until, following a visit to a neurologist at the James Paget, we were put in contact with Sarah. We met her at the Louise Hamilton Centre on the same day. With calmness I had not experienced over the passed months, Sarah presented an environment of empathy and clear understanding. That initial meeting must have lasted an hour but slowly and surely my overload of facts began to make sense. There was a real understanding of the situation my wife and I found ourselves facing.

“This meeting was followed up by lots of practical advice and information. Emails and telephone conversations followed. When my wife need to attend hospital Sarah was always there and available to give me advice as to how such visits could be achieved with the least distress... Often I found out she had contacted the department or ward before we got there.

“In August 2016 my wife was admitted to the James Paget which resulted in a stay on the short-term medical ward, where her general care was the best we could have hoped for. An absolutely vital ingredient of that wonderful care, that enabled my wife to come home, was Sarah Hay.

“I believe what Sarah achieved went far and away above expectation. Apart from making contact, initially daily, and in some cases just a ‘pop-in’ as she was passing, I was able to leave a message for her in total confidence that she or a member of her team would respond, always acting appropriately, either with a smile or empathy when things got bad.

“When it came to discharge Sarah was there for us, questioning if things had happened…I would not have know what questions to ask without the support of Sarah, who seemed to be always there for us.

“When my wife was unable to eat or drink it was Sarah who helped me through some very dark days…When I desperately needed help with palliative care it was Sarah who gave me a route that would lead me to getting what I desperately needed.

“My wife sadly passed away in November 2016 but her quality of life was so much affected by Sarah and her support for us in so many ways. She is not only a super ambassador for the James Paget but her dementia knowledge and practical skills must benefit so many people in so many direct and indirect ways.”