Palliative and End of Life Care Lead Sarah Freer is the winner of the special ‘NHS 70’ category at this year’s Nurse and Midwife of the Year Awards.
Sarah, who has worked at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) since 1994, was nominated for her excellent contribution to nursing, which recently includes the Trust-wide roll-out of an initiative that has put a renewed focus on supporting patients and their families in their last days of life.
Thanks to funding from the Nottingham Hospitals Charity, NUH has launched the SWAN initiative, which is a symbol used across the hospitals to represent end of life and bereavement care, acting as a reminder to all staff to pay extra attention to patients, as well as their families and friends, at their greatest time of need.
Sarah and her team led this project, recruiting End of Life champions and ensuring every ward has a SWAN box containing comfort packs, memory boxes and bags, handprint resources, SWAN property bags and tissue donation information.
Sarah said: “People often say how difficult my job must be, but my view is that I’m making that person’s time left as easy as possible. The feedback around SWAN so far has been really positive. Being able to offer families what they need in this difficult time has really helped staff to feel liberated. They are now engaging with families in ways they weren’t able to before.”
Sarah’s dedication to the dignity of her patients and their families saw her chosen by a panel of judges to win the ‘NHS 70’ Award in the Nurse and Midwife of the Year Awards.
On winning this award she said: “I feel really honoured and privileged to have been nominated and to have been successful it feel like a real team event!”
The ‘NHS 70’ category was a special award for 2018 to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS, which is on 5 July. Those who embodied the true nursing and midwifery values of the NHS, compassion and delivery of care were nominated.
Sue Haines, NUH’s Assistant Director of Nursing, said: “Sarah is fantastic Nurse who is passionate about improving care for patients, carers and families. She is very unassuming and modest about her own leadership and specialist clinical skills and probably does not truly recognise the huge impact she has had, and continues to have, across the Trust with her role as End of Life Care lead.
“She has worked tirelessly to establish and develop the palliative care team at NUH, which provides expertise advice and support at the most challenging times faced by patients and their loved ones. It is excellent that she has been recognised through shortlisting for this ‘NHS 70’ award and very well deserved indeed.”