GWH nurse awarded British Empire Medal for transforming care of vulnerable people

Posted: June 10, 2019

Congratulations to Wendy Johnson BEM

A nurse from Wootton Bassett has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to nursing by Her Majesty the Queen in the Birthday 2019 Honours List. 

Wendy Johnson BEM 500

Wendy Johnson began her career in the Royal Air Force, before joining the NHS at the former Princess Margaret Hospital in Swindon 19 years ago. She has since worked in a number of prominent leadership roles within Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, currently as Head of Safeguarding and Mental Health.

Wendy has transformed the Trust's approach to caring for more vulnerable patients, including people with dementia, mental health conditions and learning disabilities and/or autism. Through specialist education and training for staff, carefully designed wards and adaptations to care, Wendy has ensured that the unique and often complex needs of the Trust's most vulnerable patients are consistently met.

Over the last few years, Wendy has made significant improvements to the care of patients with learning disabilities and/or autism. Her passion, determination and specialist knowledge have driven a number of initiatives which are helping to meet the very different needs of each patient.

Just last year, Wendy led the production of an educational video to raise awareness among NHS staff of the different needs of patients with learning disabilities and/or autism. As with most of Wendy's work, it was developed using direct feedback from local patients and their families. It is now being used by NHS organisations across the country and in undergraduate student nurse training.

Previously, Wendy led the transformation of an older person's ward to create a dementia friendly environment. International best practice was used to make changes designed to help reduce anxiety, improve confidence and support a speedier recovery.

The ward was made to feel more homely, with a lounge area, easy listening music, communal mealtimes and china tea sets. Special clocks help patients to distinguish between day and night, individually painted bays help patients remember where they are staying and bedside nursing stations mean patients are always in sight.

One of the most significant changes was the matt floor, which led to a 44 per cent reduction of falls in the immediate six months after installation. Wendy found that patients with dementia often mistook shiny surfaces for water, which often resulted in patients falling.

After hours of extensive research into the needs and preferences of people with dementia, Wendy not only transformed an entire ward, but inspired a fresh approach to care in other parts of the hospital. Personalised, evidence based and specialist care is now at the centre of much of the Trust's quality improvement work.

Wendy commented: "I feel honoured and humbled to have been chosen for this accolade and accept the award in recognition of the important contribution nursing can make in delivering high quality care. 

"You can't achieve anything in healthcare without others, and I welcome the opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of the many dedicated colleagues who have worked alongside me to improve the care experience for some of our most vulnerable patients. 

"It's great to have an opportunity to put nursing in the spotlight and have the chance to talk about the difference we can all make".

Julie Marshman, Chief Nurse, said: "Wendy's commitment to ensuring all patients are treated with respect, dignity and compassion at all times is really admirable. We are so grateful for the specialist expertise and knowledge she brings to the care in this hospital and our community services. She is constantly striving to make improvements and I know she is an inspiration to many of her colleagues."

Wendy will be presented with her medal by the Lord-Lieutenant of Wiltshire at a local ceremony and will also be invited to a Royal Garden Party next summer.

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