Vote for Somerset nurse in National Patient's Choice Award - have your say by Friday 28 April

Date: 10 April 2017

Nurse’s dedicated support for young woman with eating disorder up for top accolade

A nurse’s ‘above and beyond care’ of a young woman with an eating disorder has been shortlisted for a prestigious UK award.

Sarah Moody, who works for Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, is a finalist in the Patient's Choice category of the RCNi Nurse Awards 2017, the profession’s top accolade for nursing excellence.

The award, sponsored by Yakult and supported by Smooth Radio, enables members of the public to thank a nurse, midwife, health visitor, healthcare assistant or assistant practitioner who has delivered exceptional care and made a real difference to their or a loved one's life. The winner will be chosen from the five-strong shortlist by a public vote.

Sarah will find out whether she has won at a ceremony in the Westminster Park Plaza hotel, London, on May 5.

The eating disorder specialist nurse has been nominated by Hannah. She says:

"This year I am planning my wedding, graduating as a nurse and, hopefully, being discharged from mental health services after 15 years. Sarah is one in a million and I have no doubt without her help I would still be the sad, lonely and misunderstood young girl I once was."

She adds: "Sarah gave me life and helped me believe I deserved it."

Sarah started working with Hannah in the community more than a year ago. Hannah, who is now 27, says she was a revolving-door inpatient for 11 years and under mental health services since she was 13. 

She recalls: "I had significantly deteriorated over the previous four months, with low weight, poor blood results, I had been labelled as a chronic anorexic with poor prognosis and since my first inpatient admission, the most time I had spent in the community was five months.

"I was facing another inpatient admission and having to drop out of university. I longed for recovery yet continually felt misunderstood, undeserving and that I was unhelpable."

In her assessment, Sarah spent three hours getting to know Hannah, what she wanted, and her fears.

Hannah says: "She brought up the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder as a precipitating factor to my eating disorder, something that had not been suggested before. 

"We had explored the criteria and brought up challenging areas of my past. It was the first time I truly felt understood in mental health services and I believe this opened the doors to my recovery.

"Since then Sarah has gone above and beyond any nurse’s duty with dedicated weekly appointments – and no clock-watching – travelling to me at university, always being at the end the end of a phone or email. 

"She has helped me overcome past trauma, attachment and abandonment issues and intimacy fears. There has been endless meal planning and exposure work, and most of all she has given me the time and confidence to believe I can and will recover from life-destroying illness."

After each session, Hannah says, she would reflect in emails sometimes pages long. "Sarah would always reply in great detail," she recalls, "challenging my disordered thoughts and rigid thinking."

She adds that Sarah has helped her improve my emotional regulation, mindfulness and interpersonal effectiveness through cognitive behaviour therapy.

"This has allowed me to meet my own and others' needs", says Hannah. "Four years ago I was in a general hospital, sectioned, being fed through a tube and my family were told I was unlikely to survive the next few days. I have now been out of hospital 20 months, my bloods are normal and I'm the highest weight I have ever been.

"Sarah has walked alongside me every step of the way – allowed me to believe I'm more than just a label and that they don't define me. I know I will reach a life without disorders – free to embrace life. I hope in my practice I can make half the difference Sarah has to me."

Sarah has been a nurse for 10 years. She felt ‘touched and moved’ when she read Hannah’s nomination. "I was shocked to hear I was a finalist. Awards are not why I became a nurse – I go into work to help people. 

"Hannah is a lovely girl – she did all the hard work. I feel privileged I was able to ignite the hope that was still in her."

RCNi editorial director Graham Scott and Patients’ Association chief executive Katherine Murphy shortlisted the five finalists.

Graham says: "This year’s Patient's Choice showcases five inspirational nurses and five examples of outstanding care that all deserve an award. Typically, these modest nurses would say they are just doing their job but it is clear from their patient’s testimonies that they have each made an enormous difference to the lives of those who nominated them.

"We hope the public will show us who they think deserves to win this prestigious accolade by taking part in our vote."

Voting is open until April 28. Vote at www.nurseawards.co.uk