Date of release: 12 May 2021
Nearly 20 years as a nurse with The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, Leigh Dillon, Matron for Planned Care District Nursing, Supportive Care and the Oximetry / Virtual Ward, is keen to celebrate the impact of nurses everywhere, in both acute and community services.
From having her daughter at a young age, Leigh was keen to disprove the common misconception that having a baby young can disrupt your career plans and rob you of your dreams.
She explained: “I wanted to be a good role model for Amelia; I didn’t want to be deemed ‘a teen mum who is not going amount to anything’, so when I heard about the Nursing’s Cadet Scheme I jumped at the chance.”
A 24-month programme, the scheme is designed to equip cadets academically and clinically for a future career in nursing; this includes theoretical modules and a placement in a healthcare setting. Cadet Nurses were then supported to make a decision on their next steps to which the Trust seconded Leigh and supported her to complete her NVQ Level 3 in health and social care. Leigh became a qualified Staff Nurse in 2007 and has been making her mark ever since.
A well-known senior leader in the Trust’s community nursing service, Leigh had not anticipated this is where she would end up specialising – this is while her nursing portfolio consists of acute nursing within Trauma and Orthopaedic (T&O), Cancer Services, Urology, Gastroenterology and Continence.
Here, within Gastroenterology, Leigh was able to make her first contribution to service improvement ideas, having been there at the conception of the nurse-led paracentesis service – a service which has since been implemented and recognised by the British Journal of Nursing.
But the achievements didn’t stop there, as within the Trust’s Continence team Leigh was able to support with the achievement of a Nursing Times award for their work around the pelvic floor programme, while as a Band 7 on the T&O ward she and her colleagues won the ‘Clinical Team of the Year’ award at the Trust’s 2019 Royal Awards.
The 35-year-old explained: “I’ve been lucky to work with some fantastic people who have encouraged and supported me to be involved and make service improvements and to further develop in my own career. I’ve been able to top up my Diploma to a degree with honours in Adult Nursing and I’m privileged to now hold a Masters with Merit in Healthcare Leadership, which RWT supported.
“The Trust is very keen on inhouse development and growing their own, it’s a great place to enhance your knowledge and widen your skillset. And having come from being a cadet, I think its proof that if you’re passionate, you can achieve anything. I’ve been fortunate to meet some fantastic nurses through my career thus far who have been role models and helped pave the way for us all as nurses.”
In her current role within Adult Community Services, Leigh looks after eight teams across different Trust sites including West Park Hospital and Wolverhampton Science Park. This oversees many areas of patient care needs such as complex care needs, long-term conditions and end of life patients within their own homes, the coordination of care that refers patients to the relevant teams and prevents admission to hospital, while also supporting COVID-19 positive patients following their hospital discharge.
The mum-of-three said: “In my role it’s about supporting staff and enabling them to carry out their roles. I offer peer support to help staff in their learning, while joining up with colleagues across other services and health and social care organisations, such Compton Care, to ensure we are offering a collaborative care approach.”
Leigh, who lives in Wolverhampton, reflects on the impact of COVID-19 over the past twelve months.
“We’ve set up the Oximetry @ Home ward in order to support people within the comfort of their own homes while minimising the risk of transmission to others and avoiding hospital admission. This also meant those who were well enough to go home could do so but still had that regular contact over video / telephone consultation. The virtual COVID-19 ward is aligned to this by offering additional COVID-19 treatment to people at home who are experiencing medical difficulties following their COVID-19 diagnosis. It means they can be receiving additional support and treatment outside of the hospital environment.
“Our teams in Adult Community Services have supported care home staff during this period by offering support in the form of outbreak management and acting as a point of contact when they had concerns. It’s been a team effort to avoid patients in these environments becoming seriously ill and needing to come to hospital.
“We’re so lucky we’ve got a really good Infection Prevention team here at the Trust, they implemented robust systems and processes quickly to keep us and the patients safe.
When asked what she enjoys most about the role she replied: “I really thrive on staff satisfaction and their involvement in service improvement. Without a happy workforce we can’t deliver the care or service we want to, so it’s important to encourage conversations within teams and get them involved and empowered to share ideas. This will in turn deliver positive health outcomes to patients we care for.”
For Leigh, International Nurses Day is about valuing nurses for the fantastic role they play within healthcare.
“Nurses are sometimes undervalued for what they can do. There’s so much more to being a nurse – you’ve got advanced nursing practitioners, nurse consultants, nurse specialists etc. and together, with our varying skills, we have a wider holistic approach in order to offer high-quality care to a complex and ever-changing population, as and when it’s needed.
“This campaign helps to value what nurses bring to the table, which is going above and beyond to care for their patients. I’m proud to be a nurse!”
Thank you, Leigh!