A presentation and celebration of some of the best improvement work undertaken by NHS Shetland teams during the past year was held virtually on Friday 8 March, where staff presented eleven projects to their colleagues and the Board for the annual celebrating Excellence in Care Awards, 2023-24.

The event, organised by Director of Nursing and Acute Services Professor Kathleen Carolan, shone a spotlight on the improvements that staff have made to different parts of the health care service.

Prof Carolan said the quality of the improvement work had been of such a high standard that it had been a “very difficult decision” for the panel to decide the winners. She said: “A common theme in many of the presentations was that teams in Shetland were leading the way in Scotland, with lots of examples where they are developing new ways of working that other health boards could learn from. Particularly in terms of how we are engaging with our patients and the community to develop services that best meet people’s needs.”

The judges included Anne Armstrong, Deputy Chief Nursing Officer and Prof Carolyn McDonald, Chief Allied Health Professions Officer, Scottish Government; Kathy Hubbard and Bruce McCulloch, NHS Shetland Non-Executive Board Members.

The five categories included:

Practice education: This was aimed at projects where the focus was on training, awareness raising or role development.

Dr Dean O’Dwyer, Clinical Development Fellow, Jane Astles; Advanced Nurse Practitioner; and Daniel Mainland, Paramedic/Practice Educator, received the award for practice education in recognition of the work they have led to create a teaching faculty to support training simulation exercises for multi-professional teams involved in providing emergency care. Staff who have participated in these teaching sessions have reported that they feel more confident working as a team and able to lead a response during an emergency as a result of the instu training exercises that have been offered on a weekly basis.

Innovation in practice: This was for any project that had brought a new approach into practice.

This award went to Claire Bisset, Dietetics Clinical Lead, and Megan Hibbert for the work that they have led to transform the dietetic service and develop the Assistant Practitioner role, which has led to improved access to advice and support, more appropriate prescribing of oral nutritional supplements, and reduced costs.

Person-centred care: For any project that has specifically enhanced the focus on the individual and the quality of their care.

Lynn Ritch, Health Visitor, received the person-centred care award for the quality improvement project she led to promote the importance of bonding and attachment for first-time parents attending antenatal education classes. Lynn placed an emphasis on how to support both parents to attend antenatal classes, particularly considering the needs of men and their inclusion in conversations about bonding.

Prevention: This was for projects where the focus was on self-management, health improvement or realistic medicine.

This category was won by Jen O’Loan, Advanced General Practice Clinical Pharmacist. She received this award in recognition of the work that she has undertaken to reduce the prescribing of anticholinergic medications for patients through clinical medication reviews. Jen was commended for the way in which she involved patients in the decision-making process to review medications.

The fifth category recognised the impact of partnership working and included any aspect of service improvement. This award was won by Hannah McCluskey, Bereavement Midwife. This was in recognition of the work that Hannah has undertaken to develop bereavement support in Shetland, which culminated in the opening of the Northern Star bereavement suite in November 2023. Hannah worked closely with a wide range of staff, patients, and third-sector partners to co-design the suite.

Chair of the judging panel Anne Armstrong said that those presenting and the teams that they represent “demonstrated a very high calibre of improvement work which deserves to be shared nationally to spread new ways of working and good practice. The panel wanted to convey to everybody that what was presented was outstanding. What really shone through was the focus on putting the patient and their families at the centre of care and how that had such a positive impact on the quality of the patient’s experience and the quality of their care. ”

Published: Monday, 18th March 2024