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Sheffield Children’s nurse finalist for national award

Sheffield Children's Hospital sign
01 July 2021

The lead nurse for Learning Disability at Sheffield Children’s has been shortlisted in the Royal College of Nursing 2021 Awards, for providing outstanding brilliant care for children, young people and families with learning disabilities.

selfie of Michelle Evans, learning disability nurse, against leafy backgroud, Michelle has a brunette bob, glasses and is smiling

Michelle Evans, Learning Disability Lead Nurse at Sheffield Children’s, has been nominated by Sheffield Children’s Deputy Director of Nursing Claire Harness, for her dedicated work supporting young patients and their families, helping make sure their visits are as stress free as possible and educating colleagues across the Trust on how best to support patients.

Ruth Brown, Acting Chief Executive at Sheffield Children’s, said: “Michelle has had an enormous impact on the lives of so many children and families. By sharing her knowledge and expertise with nursing teams, she has put in place a number of solutions that makes everyone’s lives easier, and directly supports our patients and their families now, and in the future.”

Michelle has personally supported patients and their families, as well as implementing changes across the Trust to help young people. For example:

  • Supported patients with extreme procedural anxiety to have treatment
  • Created bespoke approaches to prepare patients for planned surgery – this has enabled patients who were previously declined surgery
  •  Supporting and encouraging staff to use Makaton to help communicate with patients and families
  •  Reduced patient anxiety around the use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Introduced the Disability Distress tool, to allow for monitoring of pain for patients who are non-verbal
  • Supported nurses to care for patients with mental health needs on the hospital wards
  • Development of a ‘treasure hunt’ to support anxious patients to travel through the hospital

Michelle said: “I feel humbled and honoured to have been nominated by a colleague, thank you Claire! Then to be shortlisted for the national RCN Learning Disability Award, leaves me rather astounded to be able to stand alongside some amazing finalists this year. The award doesn’t belong just to me, it highlights the commitment, enthusiasm and creativity of the many people I have had the opportunity to work alongside over the last 12 months.

“Having started at Sheffield Children’s Hospital a week before the first ‘lockdown’ was announced, created a new set of obstacles that I did not envision when accepting the post back in October 2019 pre-COVID life! It’s been a whirlwind and emotional journey, as it has for many working within our services.

“With the support of others, we now have our first health passport, over 180 trained staff and students including those volunteering to become a ward or department champion. This is continuing to improve the services and support offered to patients and families with additional needs. I think one of my favourite changes that I see, is staff contacting me to explain what ‘reasonable adjustments’ they’ve offered when seeking support, and the range and breadth of support given to children and young people to access health care is quiet astonishing. It’s truly impressive to see and hear such big changes in the culture of the trust in such a short time frame, and the feedback from parents is inspiring. We have lots more going on behind the scenes and we will hopefully be able to share more projects and improvements in the coming months.”

Ruth said: “Michelle has contributed so much to the delivery of compassionate care through her teaching, her relentless pursuit of excellence and her exemplary role modelling. Her breadth of knowledge and skill, so generously shared, builds staff confidence and understanding, informing their approach to children with learning disabilities.

“We’ve had great feedback from families when adjustments have been made, and these have made patient visits as stress free as possible. Every trust should have a Michelle!”


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