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Award is just reward for nurse's commitment to care

Image shows a woman standing in front of a sign

Spending six months in a SPA might sound like an indulgent perk for the rich and famous, but for one Swansea Bay nurse it was anything but – as she supported a vulnerable young man with learning disabilities at the height of the pandemic.

Ffion Jones, 25, works at the Llwyneryr Learning Disabilities Unit in Morriston. It supports people with a diagnosed learning disability who are experiencing a deterioration in their mental health, physical health and behaviour.

Image shows a woman When the pandemic started the service opened Single Point of Access (SPA) Covid 19 isolation units where patients stayed for two weeks.

And for one patient, in particular at the SPA, Ffion’s caring and personal approach proved invaluable in improving their quality of life and behaviour.

PICTURED: Ffion outside the Dan Y Deri building where she spent six months working in the Single Point of Access (SPA) Covid 19 isolation units.

Rebecca Edwards, Behaviour Specialist within the Mental Health and Learning Disability Delivery Unit, said: “The Dan Y Deri single point of access Covid 19 isolation units (SPA) were created for patients to isolate for a two-week period prior to being admitted to an acute admissions unit or, if possible, back to the community.

“Ffion was one of the first nurses to volunteer to work within a small team and transfer to the SPA. At the time she also moved out of her family home to live in a B&B to protect her family from the virus.

“During our time in the SPA, a young man with learning disabilities and autism was displaying life-threatening self-injurious behaviour. Ffion embraced the clinical recommendation given to her for this case and understood his complex needs.

“Ffion and the rest of the team worked above and beyond, working long hours to ensure his safety. She especially used her creativity and communication skills to interact and build a connection with this young man along with ensuring his sensory needs were met.

“This helped improve his quality of life, reduce his behavioural presentation and led to a successful discharge.”

Image shows a woman with an award Ffion’s drive and dedication to her job since qualifying as a learning disability nurse three years ago has now been rewarded with success at a national event celebrating excellence across the care sector.

She won the Social Care Nurse category for Wales in the Great British Care Awards.

PICTURED: Ffion with her award.

The award acknowledges the important role that specialist nurses working in the care sector have in promoting the emotional, physical, psychological and social health of the people who they support.

Ffion said: “I was really shocked as I didn’t even think I would be nominated let alone win the award. I am so grateful for the amazing team I work with and the support I receive.

She added: “I’m really passionate about my work. During the pandemic, in the space of 48 hours, I’d gone from living at home to moving out to find new accommodation as my switch to the SPA meant I had to protect my parents from potentially contracting anything from me as they were shielding.

“It wasn’t until six months later that I moved back home, but it was something I gained a lot from too as they were unprecedented times.”

The foundations of Ffion’s career were set on her own doorstep - her mother Beverly is a teaching assistant who has worked with children with learning disabilities for over 25 years.

She also has a relative who has learning disabilities, and has been involved with a youth club for people with learning disabilities and autism for almost a decade.

Image shows three women But the nature of her profession also provides challenges.

Ffion said: “Within my role I work as part of a wider multi-disciplinary team with a variety of skills and experiences.

PICTURED: Ffion with Rebecca Edwards (left), Behaviour Specialist within the Mental Health and Learning Disability Delivery Unit and Laura Horton (right), Clinical Nurse from the Learning Disability intensive support service who received highly commended awards.

“Together with this wide range of professionals we create an individualised plan of care and treatment. Getting to know and understand the patient as a person is invaluable.

“Despite the wide range of support, the role is not without its challenges.

“At times, due to patients being acutely unwell, there are incidents of physical aggression which can be distressing for patients and staff. It requires a skilled and sensitive response using the positive behaviour support and management guidance which helps maintain safety using the least restrictive techniques.

“But another part of the job sees me frequently take on the role as dance partner, artist and friend. This variety in the job makes it so enjoyable and worthwhile.”

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