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Livewell Southwest teams shortlisted for UK’s top health awards

11th September 2017

Initiatives in Plymouth which have improved patient care and reduced waiting times are in the running for two of the UK’s top healthcare awards, it has been announced.
Livewell Southwest, which provides health and social care services in and around Plymouth and west Devon, has been shortlisted in two categories of the sought-after Health Service Journal (HSJ) Awards. The awards recognise and celebrate the finest achievements in the NHS, and are the largest awards programme of its type in the world.
Judges of the Workforce category were impressed by Livewell Southwest’s radical redesign of how community nurses are recruited, to reverse the high vacancy rate it – along with the rest of the country - was experiencing.

‘Investing in Growing Our Own’ saw recruitment open days with on-the-spot provisional job offers, the introduction of the nursing associate roles within community nursing to support and complement the work of registered nurses, an increased focus on career development and training, scholarship funding for degrees and the creation of an ‘internal agency’ to cover unexpected staff shortages.

Dawn Slater, Livewell Southwest’s director of clinical practice and development, said: “We’ve reduced vacancy rates from 46 per cent to 1 per cent within community nursing, which has led to a 75 per cent reduction in patient waiting lists, and there is no longer a need to use agency nurses within that service.

“Across Livewell, the vacancy rate is 1 per cent among nurses, staff morale has improved, sickness levels have fallen and staff retention has increased.

“I am delighted that the HSJ Award judges have recognised the success of this project by shortlisting it for an award.

“We are proud of our nurses who have embraced and led these development opportunities to ensure our future workforce is competent, confident and proud to be a nurse.

“This in itself has given us the motivation to continue to be brave and innovative.”

Also in the running is the Wellbeing Club, which has been nominated in the Specialist Services Redesign category.

This project is jointly co-ordinated by Livewell Southwest, Plymouth Marjon University and Drake Medical Alliance, and introduced a new way of caring for patients with leg ulcers, treating the whole person, not just the condition, in a social environment.

Lori Ashton, locality manager, said: “Leg ulcers affect 1.5 per cent of the UK adult population and prevalence is above the national average in Devon. Patients can become isolated due to the discomfort they experience.

“The club created a social environment where patients could share any concerns and learn more about how to manage their condition. It promoted wound healing, a sense of control with specific exercises targeted to meet individual needs and advice on healthy living and diet.

“Initially screens were used for privacy during treatment, but patients asked us to remove them. Friendship and trust had been formed at an early stage. Beating a leg ulcer became a competitive sport!”

Healing rates exceeded expectations and patients gained confidence as a result of socialising.

Professor Steve Waite, chief executive of Livewell Southwest, welcomed the news. “We have a talented and dedicated workforce whose focus is to deliver the best care to people, in the right place. Innovation is key to improving patient care and I’m proud that these two successful examples have been recognised by being shortlisted for these prestigious awards.”

A spokesperson for the HSJ said: “2017 has seen a staggering increase in entries from all over the NHS and wider healthcare industry, so to be shortlisted is a fantastic achievement.

“For 36 years the HSJ Awards have recognised, celebrated and promoted the finest achievements in the NHS, and showcased them to the service’s most influential leaders. They highlight examples of outstanding practice and innovation that help to safeguard and improve patient care, up and down the country, like no other event.”

Winners will be announced at an event at the London InterContinental O2 on 22 November. 

You can also view this short film, where key partners discuss the benefits of the Wellbeing Club: