As a practitioner assistant in the outpatients department in Dolgellau Hospital in north Wales, I’ve got the freedom to develop my own initiatives. It’s a health and wellbeing hub and everyone who works here knows we need to encourage self care in the community.
This is such a beautiful area, but there are challenges; whether that’s access to information, the cost of travel or transport links. So I need to get out there and get our vital messages across.
If people have to travel for an hour and a half to go to a stop smoking session, they’re not going to do it. But I make myself available. If the only time people are free to listen to me is at 8pm, then I’ll do it.
We have to be practical to get the information to the people who need it. One way of doing this is to discuss sun awareness and how to recognise skin cancer with specific groups such as farmers and construction workers who are outside all day.
I also manage a network of information boards that are placed in leisure centre changing rooms, fire and police stations and colleges. I hope this will help those who don’t actively seek support.
I’ve looked at ways to encourage men who may be especially hard to reach to look after their own health too. Often the lads I’ve talked to at Berwyn Prison say no-one has ever spoken to them about something like testicular cancer before.
Health education must be central to all the care we give. Patients live their lives in their community and only use hospital services for a very short time. People have got to try to take responsibility for their health but they need our support. It’s up to all of us who work in health care to help.
'A credit to the department'
RCN member and lead nurse Anne Thomas nominated Steven for the RCN Wales HCA of the Year award.
"He’s so enthusiastic when he talks and you can’t enthuse others without that. The benefits of having him work with us are amazing and are reflected in the positive feedback we receive from patients and community groups. He’s a real credit to the department,” she says.
Steven is an ambassador with men’s health charity, Orchid.
Read more about the RCN in Wales Nurse of the Year awards.