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Irish nurse gets top European award for compassionate care

Author: Petrina Vousden
13 July 2017
  • Eilis Hession,

An Irish nurse has been honoured with a top European healthcare award for leading a project to support people with dementia to live in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.

Eilis Hession won the European Kate Granger Award for Compassionate Care 2017 for her pioneering work in dementia care.

The Award recognises outstanding patient care by individuals currently engaged in the healthcare system.

Eilis is General Manager Social Care and Lead Living Well with Dementia, HSE Community Health East which incorporates Dublin-South, Dun Laoghaire, East Wicklow.

She worked as a public health nurse for fifteen years before taking on a managerial role and is known for "delivering a quality and humane service to all her patients and their families."

She leads the Living With Dementia programme in Stillorgan and Blackrock,  Dublin -  which began as a three year community-based pilot project - to support people with dementia to continue to live at home and be an active part of the community.

The project has now been adopted by the HSE in the region.

Further information on the project is available at http://livingwellwithdementia.ie/

Eilis’ team comprises of patients, their primary carers and representative from community groups.

It’s hoped the project will influence national policy on the care of people with dementia, improving the lives of tens of thousands of people throughout Ireland.

In Ireland, the level of dementia is projected to more than triple over the next 25 years from 40,000 to 140,000 people. The community in Stillorgan-Blackrock has the highest national urban prevalence of dementia with approximately 700 people living with the dementia .

The pilot, Living with Dementia project trials new ways to support people with dementia who are living in the community and those who care for them. The aim is to enable people to continue to live in their own homes for as long as possible. All members of the Stillorgan-Blackrock community – shops, schools, clubs, recreational groups and businesses – are invited to join healthcare professionals and play a role.

Some examples of the supports it offers include:

·         Information for people with dementia and family members

·         Direct supports and respite for people with dementia

·         Development of activities for people with dementia

·         Raising awareness about dementia and mobilising support among the community

·         Working with local businesses/groups to help make Stillorgan-Blackrock a dementia-friendly place to live.

 

Eilis was the candidate that obtained the highest number of nominations for the European Kate Granger Awards 2017. The jury highlighted her “solid track record and accomplishment of compassionate care”. The professionals that nominated Eilis for the award, said: “Through her passion, tenacity and leadership skills, Eilis secured three year funding for this project and her approach to patient care has been inspirational to the staff working with her.”

Eilis’ work demonstrates an ambitious and innovative way of delivering patient care. She is described as a “motivational leader with all the human, physical and clinical skills required to lead a whole community in creating a changed environment that is actively supporting and including people with dementia, enabling them to live their lives to the full in the community.”

The European Kate Granger Awards for Compassionate Care are named after an English doctor who worked tirelessly to raise awareness around compassion in healthcare while undergoing treatment for cancer.

Dr Kate Granger, who sadly passed away in July 2016, launched the awards in England in 2014 to recognise people and organisations that have delivered care with compassion at its heart. Now, with the backing of HIMSS and the support of Kate’s widower, Chris Pointon, colleagues in the rest of Europe have the opportunity to recognise outstanding patient care in the European Kate Granger Awards for Compassionate Care.

As well as the Awards for Compassionate Care, Dr Kate Granger launched the globally-recognised #hellomynameis campaign to encourage health and care professionals to introduce themselves to patients when they provide care. Kate believed this gesture can positively affect a patient’s experience of care. Start saying #hellomynameis in your organisation.

Eilis Hession, said: “I am a great admirer of Kate. In her darker days, while she was undergoing treatment for her illness, Kate still had the energy to try to change the way patients were being treated. She experienced that patients are not listened to and cared for as they deserve so she worked to transform that. I am very honoured to receive this important award.”

The jury of the Kate Granger Awards was composed of several health IT personalities from European hospitals, HIMSS President Stephen Lieber and Kate Granger’s widower Chris Pointon.

The panel of judges will want to see evidence of ambitious and innovative ways of delivering care, excellent leadership and positive impact on patient experience.

Further information on the project is available here.

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