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Sheffield nurse who helped connect sick children and parents through video messaging up for top award

nurse in purple uniform smiling
30 June 2022

A nurse who drove the implementation of a secure video service to minimise separation anxiety when children are on a surgical ward has been shortlisted for a prestigious UK award.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust staff nurse Imogen Spencer is a finalist in the Child Health category of the RCN Nursing Awards 2022.

A panel of nurse leaders selected her as a finalist from hundreds of entries for the prestigious award.

Imogen will find out if she has won at a ceremony on Thursday 6 October at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in London.

The RCN Nurse of the Year 2022 will be selected from all the category winners and will also be announced at the event.

Healthcare technology company vCreate offered its services to the neonatal surgical unit thanks to funding from Sheffield Children’s supporting charity The Children’s Hospital Charity. Imogen worked with vCreate following support from the Charity to set up the service on Ward 1 at Sheffield Children’s Hospital to offer it to more patients and families who aren’t always able to be with their child in hospital.

The service vCreate provides families with the opportunity to receive photos, videos and updates of their child in hospital when they may have to be away from them.

Imogen led a working group to look at implementation and training of staff and offered parents or carers who would benefit from the service the opportunity to receive videos and photographs of their child.

Parents and carers have reported that the service has provided them with contact and memories they would otherwise not have had.

Since introducing vCreate on the ward in 2021, memorable moments have included parents being able to see play sessions, baths and mealtimes and a child learning to walk.nurse using ipad to take picture of baby in a pram

Imogen said: “Many of our patients have complex health needs requiring longer term surgical input, and several of our patients have been transitioned from local neonatal units for ongoing care.

“This means some of our patients can have long stays in hospital or frequently need to reattend for differing procedures and nursing care.

“This can make it challenging for their families who may be unable to be with their child throughout their hospital stay due to juggling work commitments and long journeys to the hospital.

“Introducing a system like vCreate Diaries on our ward allows families to be connected to their child through an app where they can be updated with recorded pictures and videos of their child while they are in hospital.

“Staff are able to share precious moments and milestones with families within seconds on the secure app.

”I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to be a finalist in the RCN Nursing Awards.

“Being able to share the work we do on the ward and the difference it makes to our patients and their families is amazing. I feel honoured to be nominated.”

Sally Shearer, Executive Director of Nursing and Quality and Acting Deputy Chief Executive at Sheffield Children’s, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Imogen’s vision and passion for family centred care has been recognised in the 2022 RCNi awards. The difference her thoughtfulness and compassion has made to the families who are now able to be a part of otherwise missed memories, is huge. Sheffield Children’s is excited and very proud that Imogen has reached the finals and wish her all the very best!”

RCN general secretary and chief executive Pat Cullen said: “This shortlist showcases the very best of nursing and highlights the work we do day in, day out to improve the health and well-being of our patients.

“I am so proud of all of these finalists.”

The Foundation of Nursing Studies is the event’s charity partner this year. Its chief executive and chair of the awards judging panel Joanne Bosanquet said: “The quality of entries again this year was so high and it was near impossible to choose our finalists from the creative and innovative work submitted.

“The shortlist showcases excellence and recognises the enormous difference that nurses make to people’s lives throughout the UK.”

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