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RCN Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year 2015

22 May 2015

Cherith Semple is RCN Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year 2015

Cherith Semple from Newtownards was celebrating last night, Thursday 21 May, when she won the RCN Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year Award 2015. Organised by the Royal College of Nursing, this is the nineteenth year of the awards, which took place at the Culloden Hotel, Holywood.

Cherith, who is a Macmillan cancer nurse specialist at the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, fought off competition from three other finalists to receive the award for leading a series of initiatives which have resulted in significant improvements for patients living with head and neck cancer at a local, national and international level. She was presented with the accolade by newly appointed Health Minister Simon Hamilton MLA.

Cherith has completed a PhD study exploring the factors contributing to psychosocial difficulties associated with head and neck cancer after completing treatment. Using iPad technology, she gathers feedback from out-patient clinics and uses this information to guide out-patient visits.

As a result of feedback received from patients, Cherith introduced a follow-up telephone aftercare service. This was in response to patients reporting that they felt most vulnerable following discharge from hospital. Through patient and carer education and support, Cherith has helped patients to develop skills and confidence for self-surveillance, and enabled fast-track referral to follow-up clinics. This has created a patient-led follow-up service.

Cherith is described by her nominator as representing a new generation of nurses who base their practice on evidence generated from their own research. The judging panel was impressed by Cherith’s commitment, compassion and dedication to the care of patients and their families. The panel concluded that her success in integrating research, education and practice is truly remarkable.

There were two runners-up on the evening, Barbara Maxwell, a paediatric respiratory nurse based in the Belfast Trust, and Rhonda Reilly, a children’s continence nurse based at the Western Trust.

Other winners on the night included Ann Lywood and Patricia Laverty who are district nurses on Rathlin Island. Ann and Patricia won the Public Health Award, sponsored by the Public Health Agency and Health and Social Care Board for their work to provide a comprehensive nursing service to the people of Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland’s only inhabited island. With no GP, health centre, pharmacy or other dedicated base, Ann and Patricia have built close relationships with members of the community to deliver a unique and holistic district nursing service. Their nominator says: “Nursing on Rathlin Island is unpredictable but rewarding, the nurses have to be able to deal with any eventuality whilst working as autonomous practitioners.”

An award to celebrate outstanding achievement in nursing, sponsored by the Northern Ireland Practice and Education Council (NIPEC) was presented to Chair of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, Roberta Brownlee. Roberta, who trained at the Royal Victoria Hospital in 1978, was recognised for her contribution to nursing across a number of areas, not least the independent sector where she was praised for “being a visionary leader ahead of her time.”

Paying tribute to Roberta, Janice Smyth, Director of the RCN in Northern Ireland said: “Tonight’s Outstanding Achievement Award winner is a nurse whose conduct and practice throughout their professional career has demonstrated exemplary nursing values and beliefs. “As a leader she has been a positive example to others, acting with integrity, providing encouragement and inspiring her team to deliver the highest standards of care. Throughout her career, she has used her considerable knowledge, skills and experience for the greater good of society in Northern Ireland.”

A new award, supported by Four Seasons Health Care, was established this year to reward nurses based in the independent sector. Rosemary Dilworth, from Glengormley, who is general manager at Amore Care won the Independent Sector Registered Manager Award. The judging panel commended Rosemary for her focus on staff engagement, her passion, enthusiasm and her promotion of the ethos and professional values of nursing.

Commenting on the Awards, RCN Northern Ireland Director Janice Smyth said: “Our winner is an outstanding example of a nurse who has used her own research to inform changes in her practice for the benefit of patients. Cherith has made an inspirational contribution to developing care for patients with head and neck cancers.

“The problems confronting our health and social care service are well-documented. However, we are fortunate to have nurses in Northern Ireland whose skills and expertise are in demand across the world. We need to ensure that these same nurses feel supported, recognised and valued for the excellent care they provide to the people of Northern Ireland.

“Despite the challenges, nurses continue to be committed to improving services and care for patients as demonstrated tonight. Congratulations to all of our winners who are a credit to the nursing profession.”

Full list of winners

RCN Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year Award

Winner

Cherith Semple

Macmillan Health and Neck Clinical Nurse Specialist

South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust

Joint Runners-up

Barbara Maxwell

Paediatric respiratory nurse, Belfast Health and Social care Trust

Rhonda Reilly 

Children’s continence nurse, Western Health and Social Care Trust 

Team Manager Award sponsored by ABPI

Winner

Lisa Dullaghan

Cardiac catherterisation laboratory manager

South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust

Runner-up

Joanne Agnelli

Dementia quality services manager

Four Seasons Health Care 

Health Care Support Worker Award 

Winner

Karen Todd and Michael Moreland

Nursing auxiliaries

Northern Health and Social Care Trust 

Runner-up

Richard McCrum

Senior care assistant

Ben Madigan Care Home
 

Public Health Award sponsored by the Public Health Agency and Health and Social Care Board

Winner

Ann Lywood and Patricia Laverty

District nurse case managers

Northern Health and Social Care Trust 

Runner-up

Virginia Fahy

Shared Care Co-ordinator

Northern Health and Social Care Trust  

 

Chief Nursing Officer's Award

Winner

Liz Campbell

Safe and effective care manager

South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust

Runner-up

Melanie Bowden

Practice support manager

Four Seasons Health Care
 

Student Award sponsored by Queen’s University

Winner

Elizabeth Treacy

Ulster University 

Runner-up

Gary Rutherford

Ulster University
 

Nursing Research Award sponsored by the University of Ulster

Winner

Carmel Kelly

Queen’s University, Belfast

Runner-up

Paula Brogan

Ulster University

Learning in Practice Award sponsored by the Open University

Winner

Nora Curran

Regional nursing project manager

Amore Care

Runner-up

Jennie Lee Sims

Deputy ward sister

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
 

Mental Health Innovation Award sponsored by Niamh

Winner

Laura McVeigh

Primary mental health worker for adolescent hidden harm

Southern Health and Social Care Trust

Runner-up

Sheila McLaughlin

Ward sister

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust

Independent Sector Registered Manager Award sponsored by Four Seasons Health Care

Winner

Rosemary Dilworth

General Manager, specialist services

Amore Care

Runner-up

Shily Paul

Home Manager

Four Seasons Health Care

Outstanding Achievement Award sponsored by NIPEC

Roberta Brownlee, Chair of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust