Friday 30th September 2016
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Autumn 2016
Lyn Wilkinson is Senior Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist at Lincolnshire Community Health Services. Lyn was recently awarded the title of Queen’s Nurse.
You can learn more about the Queen's Nurse title, which is designed for community nurses, at qni.org.uk
How did you come to be in your current role?
I was a district nurse for 20 years and enjoyed the palliative care side of the role. I wanted to specialise, so when a position came up I applied.
What did becoming a Queen’s Nurse mean to you?
I have worked in the community and in primary care for 34 years, in two different roles. For me the award was recognition of those years of service, and of my work towards improving primary and palliative care for patients. It was also recognition for Lincolnshire Community Health Services and Macmillan. It was important to acknowledge our representation of both organisations, and show that nurses on the ground are working hard to improve primary care for patients.
How did you apply?
I’d always known about the award but had never looked into applying. That was until a patient asked me if I was a Queen’s Nurse, and if not why not. Sadly that patient passed away, but the conversation instigated my application. You need two patient testimonials as well as support from your manager. I also approached Kathy Blythe, my Macmillan Development Manager at the time, and asked for her support. I felt that was important. The process looks at your service, what you’ve achieved within primary care and your vision for community nursing. There are several components and you have to write a short essay for each one, so there’s a lot of work involved. A panel look at your application and decide whether to award you with the title of Queen’s Nurse. It’s an in-depth process and you have to work hard for it, which makes it all the more rewarding.
How was the award ceremony?
It was really good to talk to other nurses, find out about their careers and how they’d come to apply for the award. I wasn’t the only Queen’s Nurse from Lincolnshire Community Health Services – some of my colleagues were there too which was really nice. The awards were given out by the Chief Nursing Officer for NHS England, Jane Cummings, who is also a Macmillan Trustee. One of the nicest things about it was having somebody stand up and say how important community nurses are, and what a difference we make to patient care.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen during your career?
I think the biggest change is that we don’t have as many district nurses as we used to. Now there are fewer district nurses with bigger teams of staff nurses. When I first became a district nurse we worked in integrated teams with school nurses, health visitors, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists. That system disappeared but now it’s coming back, so we’ve come full circle. Now we have integrated nursing teams where all those professionals come together to provide holistic care. The ethos is about providing care for patients within their own homes, and hospital admission avoidance. The workload of district nurses has also changed. Patients are more complex, with much greater needs, so the caseload has changed dramatically.
What difference has the Macmillan connection made to your role?
When you visit patients and say you are a Macmillan nurse, they know you’re going to talk to them about cancer, and all the complexities their condition involves. You can have very open and honest conversations because they know what Macmillan stands for, so they talk to us about their feelings. My two colleagues and I are also non-medical prescribers. This means we can prescribe medicine independently, rather than needing a doctor to do so, which helps us give more timely intervention for the patients we support.
How will the Queen’s Nurse title impact your work?
I have had one or two people see the badge and ask what it means. I think it’s important people know that as a professional you have worked to improve your knowledge, because that then improves the care theyreceive. This award acknowledges the work you’ve put in and the experience you’ve gained. It’s also important to acknowledge the people I work with. We are a small team of three, and work really hard to provide a high quality service. I don’t see the award as something just for me personally – it’s also recognition for us as a team. It shows patients that the person caring for them has their best interests at heart, and has worked hard to gain the knowledge and skills to make their lives as good as possible. I’m really proud of it.
Comment from Kathy Blythe, former Macmillan Development Manager for Lincolnshire
‘I was proud to support Lyn’s application for the Queen's Nurse award. Lyn’s most important quality is her patient centred approach to care – she never loses sight of the person and their needs. If I were a patient I would want Lyn in my corner, and I am proud that she represents Macmillan locally.’
Email Lyn - firstname.lastname@example.org