Barrow nurses recognised nationally in health awards

A team of District Nurses in Barrow have been shortlisted alongside a Mental Health Nurse at Unity for a prestigious award after teaming up to help patients with wound management.

Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Unity Drug and Alcohol service (provided by Greater Manchester West NHS Foundation Trust) have been working together to provide interventions and education around the wound management of patients who use substance misuse services, including injecting complications, abscesses and self-harm.

The team, who co-run the Unity Nurse Led Clinic for clients with Drug and Alcohol abuse, formed a focus group with their most at-risk patients. As well as dressing wounds and prescribing medication, they also educate and empower the patients to self-assist in their wound care.

The weekly sessions also includes diet and lifestyle health promotion, teaching patients how to care for and dress their wounds and educating them about infection prevention, with all care based on their individual needs and preferences.

Since the sessions have been in place hospital admissions linked to that patient type have reduced by more than 70%, and have saved District Nurse and Practice Nurse appointment times. The patients have also said that the healthcare professionals have made them feel valued and respected and that they are proud of their achievement in managing their wounds.

Following this success, Unity nominated the joint team for the 2015 General Practice Awards in November and they were successfully shortlisted in the ‘Clinical Team of the Year – Dermatology’ category.

Bev Burns, Patient Flow associate and Unity Nurse Led Clinic nurse played a key role in the project. She said: “We see people with both drug and alcohol problems, those requiring wound care - predominantly for substance abuse - are encouraged to work with us in a ‘self-assisted’ style of management. We keep wound care and dressing choice quite simple, prescribing what the clients can apply themselves - including compression socks where appropriate, and never bandages. Infection prevention and health promotion is incorporated into every session, and empowering patients to take control is key.

“The partnership of working together has benefitted many people in this hard-to-reach group, our roles are continuously developing as we learn from each other. The team have performed outstandingly well and although we weren’t winners on the night, just being a finalist was a huge achievement.”