Being honoured with the title of ‘Queen’s Nurse’ has come as a welcome surprise and delight for Sharon Robinson, a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) in the Community Team at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT).
Sharon has achieved one of the highest accolades in her profession by being awarded the title of Queen’s Nurse (QN) for demonstrating an exceedingly high level of commitment to patient care and nursing practice.
Sharon, who is also an Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP), received her Queen’s Nurse Award during an online awards ceremony on Monday 13 December.
The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) supports innovation and best practice to improve care for patients. It believes that one way to do this is to bring together Community Nurses who share common values with the shared title of ‘Queen’s Nurse’.
Dr Crystal Oldman CBE, Chief Executive of the QNI, said: “On behalf of the QNI I would like to congratulate Sharon and welcome her as a Queen’s Nurse.
“Queen’s Nurses serve as leaders and role models in community nursing, delivering high quality health care across the country. The application and assessment process to become a Queen’s Nurse is rigorous and requires clear commitment to improving care for patients, their families and carers. We look forward to working with Sharon and all other new Queen’s Nurses who have received the title this year.”
Sharon said: “I wasn’t expecting to become a Queen’s Nurse at all. In August of this year we were told that there were more than 1,300 applicants. When I heard that there were so many applicants, I resigned myself to 2021 not being my year. Then I heard from the QNI and I was absolutely delighted.
“It’s a lovely role to hold, I feel privileged and proud to influence quality and safety of care in the community. It recognises the commitment of all community nurses, which is something I am truly passionate about. My hope is that this will inspire nurses to consider nursing in the community to support individuals in need of care and support.
“I have such a huge respect for our frail and older patients - I always have done since I was a little girl. I was brought up to value older people and to care for them. They have so much to share and you can learn such a lot from them. It’s so nice to have a conversation about their life and to learn about all of the things they have achieved. They are so appreciative of the care they receive and we have lovely conversations together.
“There aren’t any nurses in my family, but when I was a child in the Brownies I did my ‘Hostess Awards’ and volunteered at a care home. I was about seven years old and I think my love of nursing stemmed from that. Providing care became my passion and I never looked back.”
Sharon, who works in the East Integrated Care Community Team covering an area including Kirkby Lonsdale, Sedbergh, Bentham, Ingleton, Milnthorpe and Arnside, began her nursing career in 1989 and she has been in her current role with UHMBT for three and a half years.
Sharon provides care to patients in the community, primarily in reaching out to care homes working in partnership with GPs, district nurses and other community teams.
Working with care home staff and patients is one of the highlights of the job for Sharon: “The teams in the care homes are amazing – it’s a real joy to work with them, it is they that deserve the highest recognition for the compassionate person-centred care they provide. We step into their world to support them.”
Advance care planning offers people the opportunity to plan their future care and support, including medical treatment. Not everyone will want to make an advance care plan, but it may be especially relevant for people at risk of losing mental capacity - for example, through progressive illness. It can also be relevant for people whose mental capacity varies at different times - for example, through memory impairment.
Sharon said: “I align closely with the District Nurses in the East Integrated Care Community, the Case Management Team and GP partners. We work together to facilitate the best outcomes for patients.
“In my current role, I undertake clinical assessment visits. If someone is unwell, I can offer care home staff the reassurance they need. In terms of advance care planning, I’m involved with the Community Palliative Care Team, the Hospice at Home and the District Nursing Team.
“When we are undertaking advance care planning conversations, allowing the person time to consider what is important to them is imperative. Understanding what a person wishes is hugely important. It’s about their dignity and making sure that what the person wishes is captured, including some information about them as a person.”
Over the last two years Sharon has also worked in the Trust’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing on her previous clinical expertise of being an ICU nurse in her earlier nursing career.
Sharon said: “My husband is delighted and really proud of me. He’s been very supportive. This award is as much an honour and testament to the wonderful kindness of my family, friends and colleagues. I couldn’t have achieved this award without the support of everyone.
“I feel so privileged to work alongside people who are truly inspirational. Our enthusiasm and commitment for supporting patients to receive care at home remains our constant focus. We are all passionate about ensuring safe, person-centred care for the community.”
Sharon did her Nursing training in Calderdale and worked in Airedale for many years before moving to UHMBT in 2014. She worked in primary care, ICU, A&E and safeguarding nurse positions before taking a post in the Community Team.
Sharon said: “Community nursing is an opportunity to bring my ICU and A&E clinical skills into the community to help prevent hospital admissions. Often I can identify patients who could be looked after safely at home instead of being admitted to hospital. If a patient wishes to stay at home, I will do all I can to provide the best and safest care at home”.
One of the care home managers that Sharon works with encouraged her to put in an application to be a Queen’s Nurse. The application involved a large piece of written work on her role, including reflective pieces.
Tracey Bindloss, General Manager of St Gregory’s House at Preston Patrick near Milnthorpe in Cumbria, said: “During the COVID-19 pandemic and a devastating outbreak within the home, Sharon was quite literally a guiding light.
“Sharon not only supported us each and every step of the way, she also anticipated areas we would need support in during the forthcoming weeks and months, something we were simply unable to do whilst switching to the firefighting response mode we were required to do.
“Sharon fought our corner, our residents’ corner and those of their families and the reality is she literally changed the outcome for many. There was professional support given readily which was always her focus, but more than this there was the support of her fellow colleagues. Somebody who knew where you were at just at that moment in time. To put it simply, a lifeline who scooped the staff up at their lowest points, reminded them that they could manage this - that the team could manage this. We will all be forever grateful and forever indebted to her during this time.
“As a nurse Sharon’s clinical knowledge astounds us. She has the utmost respect for the work we do and tells us this and, yes, we need that feedback, especially when dealing with such crisis as a COVID outbreak.
“Sharon epitomises the role of a Queen’s Nurse. She truly did enter a lifetime vocation; she was born to nurse, born to teach other nurses and, most importantly, has changed patient outcomes for the better through both her own practice and the guidance of the practice of others. She has done all this whilst maintaining one of the highest levels of professionalism we have ever come across.
“To gain 100% trust, 100% respect and 100% enjoyment from those you work with as an external support worker to a nursing home is quite simply in our mind an outstanding achievement that deserves recognition. We for one can’t thank her enough.”
The daughter of one of Sharon’s patients, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “Sharon is very inclusive and I shall be forever grateful that she included me and my brother in a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) meeting to discuss our mum’s care.
“Sharon went to great lengths to ensure my mum’s needs were foremost in all discussions and that the care plan addressed her needs. She did a full medical assessment on behalf of the GP who could not attend the meeting. She was incredibly knowledgeable and made excellent recommendations for my mum’s health care. I have felt involved and included in my mum’s care and I felt supported and reassured that Sharon was caring for me, as a carer, as well. Sharon admirably demonstrates the values and professionalism expected of a Queen’s Nurse.”
Lynne Wyre, Deputy Chief Nurse for UHMBT, said: “I would like to congratulate Sharon on this great achievement. It is something to be justifiably proud of as there is such a stringent process involved in achieving this award. It’s always fantastic to have a Queen’s Nurse on the team!”
Sharon said: “I have always held clinical posts and although I have had opportunities for non-clinical leadership roles, for me it’s always about the patient contact and making a difference to patients.
“It’s about supporting families and the people who look after patients at home. My aim is always to ensure the safe care of patients in their own home. I feel very grateful to have a job I love. I’m very happy to be working for UHMBT because it is such a kind and caring organisation.
“I can highly recommend working in the Community Team and being a nurse in general. You really can make a difference to people's lives. It’s a real privilege to be a nurse. It’s a fabulous career!”