A FAMILY centred care practitioner for children’s heart theatres at the Freeman Hospital has been nominated for a national RCNi Nurse Award after being recognised for launching an initiative to help support children who need open heart surgery.

Lisa Morgan, an experienced health care professional at the Freeman Hospital, developed a new role and initiative with her management team in 2018 to provide additional support for patients and families during the time they go to theatre for open heart surgery, whilst also the fear and anxiety of going to theatre was reduced.

Lisa said: “Working in theatre is a very hidden sector and unless you work here it is unknown to many what happens behind closed doors. I wanted to open our world of who we are and how we work up, to help children and their families who are going through extremely difficult times.

“Handing your child over to a team of strangers can be the most vulnerable and daunting time as a parent, so developing this care practitioner role has enabled us as a team to show the care and compassion we have for our patients and their families.

“I have trained all of our scrub and support staff, anaesthetic, recovery and porter teams in the importance of family centred care to our patients and how they can help the patients’ journey too. This is a whole team approach which has received 100 percent positive feedback from our patients and families which is incredible.”

Part of the initiative involves a teddy bear named ‘Baggins Bear’ which is funded by the Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF). When Lisa meets each patient with their families to talk them through the procedure and answer any questions, she gives the patient their own ‘Baggins Bear’ and a book which Lisa has created herself. This can also be translated into any language to help engage with all families.

Lisa added: “Baggins is an important part of our service which is funded by CHUF and it’s a lovely keepsake for the children to take home with them. Visiting the family on PICU after surgery is also very important to continue the relationship; for the patient this may be a once in a lifetime operation, or the first of many to come, so this connection is vital to continue our care and legacy in the future.”

Lisa was nominated for the Health Care Assistant of the Year award because of the impact this initiative has had on patients and families, and the positive change it has had in the nursing practice.

Lisa continued: “I was, and still am, so passionate to make a change for the better and with the support and belief from my team it has enabled me to flourish at work and inspire a team. I have been asked to develop this role further at the RVI in the future so this is another amazing achievement in itself.”

The RCNi Nurse Awards, now in its 32nd year, celebrates the very best in nursing care including specialities such as learning disability nursing, child health, cancer nursing, mental health nursing and nursing older people. The RCNi Nurse Awards are widely regarded as the highest honour for nurses in the UK. Winners will be announced on 03 July 2019 at the finals at the Park Plaza in Westminster, London.