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ECCH nurse receives national nursing award

A nurse who has led her team at East Coast Community Healthcare to provide care for residents in their own homes in Lowestoft and worked to improve care for the elderly in local care homes has been awarded one of the highest honours of her profession.

Locality Primary Care Home Lead Kate Spence has been awarded the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Award for Outstanding Service by The Queen’s Nursing Institute.

This award, which is personally signed by HRH Queen Elizabeth, is given to community nurses in recognition of an exceptional contribution to the care of patients in the community, to the nursing profession through teaching and personal example, and to the body of knowledge through dedicated practice and shared experience. 

With 34 years’ nursing experience, Kate started her community career as a district nurse in Newcastle before joining ECCH in 2015, where she has been instrumental in developing services to improve the quality of patient care in the local area.

Kate currently leads a team of 73 nurses and therapists who make up Lowestoft Primary Care Home team, one of four ‘hubs’ set up by ECCH in April 2019 to support GP practices in the Great Yarmouth and Waveney area. She successfully led the transition from more traditional ways of working, to operating as part of a multidisciplinary team going into people’s homes to provide care that helps them avoid a hospital stay. Kate has implemented a number of measures to coach and support local community nurses, such as introducing daily ‘safety huddles’ to support and coordinate the team , and developing an annual graduate  event for all new registrants to share their dissertations which have helped  to build  strong and resilient teams. 

As well as her dedication to supporting community nurses, Kate has been commended for her use of research evidence to improve patient care. Under her leadership, ECCH has developed a skin tear pathway for care homes, which has received national recognition, being introduced in 90 care homes across Great Yarmouth and Waveney.

After gaining a research fellowship last year to examine issues around pain and dementia, Kate will continue to work with local care homes to improve pain assessment and management.

Kate was nominated for the prestigious award by Dr Noreen Cushen-Brewster, former Executive Director of Quality at ECCH, who praised Kate for continuing to “champion the cause of community nursing”.

Having had to cancel their annual awards ceremony in London earlier this year due to the impact of coronavirus, the Queen’s Nursing Institute presented Kate with her award via a virtual ceremony on Wednesday 30th September. . 

Speaking of her success, Kate said: “It is a great honour to have my work acknowledged in this way by the QNI. The vital role of community nurses is often hidden from view. I absolutely love my job and strive to do my best in all that I undertake. I could not do this without the support of ECCH and my clinical teams. I am fortunate to work in such a supportive organisation. I am immensely proud of my team and how they continue to deliver exceptional care during this very difficult time.”

ECCH chief executive Jonathan Williams said: “We are extremely proud of Kate for achieving this well-deserved award. She is a wonderful nurse, role model and an inspirational leader. In what has been a challenging year for the healthcare sector, it is fantastic to celebrate the efforts of staff, like Kate, who continue to go above and beyond to help improve the quality of healthcare in our communities.”

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ECCH Communications team

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