Hampshire nurse up for prestigious UK award for tackling potentially fatal infection in people with learning disabilities

1 August 2023

Learning Disability Nursing.pngA nurse who identified a group of people with a learning disability with a potentially fatal infection has been shortlisted for one of the profession’s top accolades.

Clare Roberts from Hampshire-based Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust has been selected from 920 entries as a finalist in the Learning Disability Nursing category of the RCN Nursing Awards 2023.

Ms Roberts will find out if she has won at a ceremony on Friday 10 November at Liverpool Cathedral. The overall RCN Nurse of the Year 2023, selected from all the category winners, will also be announced at the event.

Clare Roberts, LD Nurse Shortlisted for RCN awards.jpg

Helicobacter pylori is a stomach bacteria that has a greater prevalence in people with a learning disability and can seriously affect their health. It is a factor in aspiration pneumonia, one of the leading causes of death in people with a learning disability.

Community learning disability charge nurse Clare Roberts became aware of a number of referrals for weight loss, agitation, gastric discomfort, vomiting and bowel disturbances. Testing showed they all had Helicobacter pylori infection. Following eradication therapy, the health and wellbeing of 13 out of 14 patients improved.

Ms Roberts has since created a fact sheet for community staff and written an article for the professional journal Learning Disability Practice to put the spotlight on the need to test for these bacteria in this vulnerable group of patients.

Ms Roberts says: ‘I feel privileged to have been nominated for an award, and grateful to be part of a supportive team who have backed me with this project. There may be many people with this infection, which is causing suffering, and their situation could be changed with more knowledge among health professionals.’

RCN general secretary and chief executive Pat Cullen said: ‘Our inspiring finalists demonstrate the very best of nursing and what can be achieved in some of the challenging times for the profession.

‘They highlight the wide variety of ways nurses improve the care of people at all stages of life and how they demonstrate their professionalism and clinical excellence every day, and in every setting, throughout the UK.’

The Foundation of Nursing Studies is the award’s charity partner this year. Its chief executive and current chair of the judging panel Joanne Bosanquet MBE said: ‘The quality of entries this year was superb 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.’

The RCN Nursing Awards will this year be held alongside the inaugural Nursing Live, a new and dynamic event for everyone who works in nursing.  Hosted over two days (November 10th-11th) at the ACC complex in Liverpool, the event will focus on both the professional and personal development of nurses at every stage of their careers and will be the first event of its kind for the sector.

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