A school nurse who went ‘above and beyond’ for a Derby family when their son was diagnosed with Type One diabetes has been shortlisted for a special NHS award.
Zoe Everingham, who works at St Giles School – the city’s only special primary school – was nominated for the ‘Compassion in Practice Award’ by Sharon Harrison, the mother of former pupil, Ryan Fulcher.
Zoe will find out if she has been successful during a special ceremony for the annual Delivering Excellence Award. They will be held at the Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust headquarters, on the Kingsway Hospital site, in November.
The annual awards highlight individuals who have made outstanding contributions to patient care and continue to make strides to improve the patient experience. Over 130 submissions across all categories were accepted by the Trust this year.
“I am honoured and amazed to be nominated for this award,” said Zoe, who started working at St Giles in 2017, initially as cover.
“Ryan is an absolute star – but all the children at St Giles are lovely. We’re one big, happy family.
“It is very much a collaborative approach. We at St Giles have worked together with other professionals to ensure his needs have been met and for Mum to say that I have gone above and beyond and nominate me for the award is just so lovely.”
Eleven-year-old Ryan was born with Downs Syndrome. He has an underactive thyroid, an atrial septal defect – more commonly known as a hole in the heart – and, 18 months ago, he was diagnosed with diabetes.
Mum Sharon says that Zoe – and St Giles’ teaching assistants Emily Deacon and Rob Moore – had a special bond with Ryan and were pivotal in helping him cope with the diabetes diagnosis.
“Zoe had that ‘magic’ touch when it came to helping Ryan to take his medicine,” she said.
“As a family, we feel she went above and beyond. She helped us so much and has kept in touch with our family, now that he’s moved to secondary school.
“Zoe, along with Emily and Rob, had so many ideas of how to cope with Ryan and getting him to monitor his blood sugar at school.
“They sourced a teddy bear, via charity JDRF, who has patches on his arms, legs, tummy and bottom to show children where they can inject insulin and take their blood tests.”
Zoe says that she is incredibly proud of Ryan and how he has progressed from initially being quite passive in the process of monitoring his blood sugar, to doing it independently.
“We have managed his diabetes in school and helped the team to understand his condition and presentation better – and how to encourage him,” she said.
“On occasions, Ryan would be upset with administering insulin and so we felt if he was part of the process more then it would help him to overcome it if he felt he was able to be in control of it.
“We supported him in being as actively involved as possible through encouraging him to test his own blood sugars (blood glucose monitoring) under verbal guidance.
“We completed desensitisation work – which means that you create a hierarchy of situations or objects that are similar to the feared situation or object, but not quite as frightening. This was done in conjunction with Royal Derby Hospital, for blood to be taken which helps to monitor Ryan’s other conditions, involving intensive play therapy with the named worker from the hospital visiting school and vice-versa.
“This resulted in Ryan having a blood test with minimal fuss with Rob and Emily supporting him through this process.
“I’ve had great support from the Derby KITE team (a specialist nursing service for children and young people and their families/carers with long-term conditions and special needs) and both Emily and Rob have helped massively.
“Ryan was given an award by St Giles executive head teacher Clive Lawrence at the end-of-year celebrations for being independent. I was so proud; I feel that we’ve set him up with a life skill and set him up well for his move to secondary school.
“We worked hard in facilitating the transition to secondary school, making sure his new team came down to St Giles and watched the way in which we supported Ryan and how we managed him constantly.”
St Giles’ Executive Head Teacher, Clive Lawrence, said: “This is an excellent example of how parents, NHS staff and education staff, can work so well together to fully meet a pupils educational, health and care needs.
“It’s fantastic that Ryan’s family have gone out of their way to nominate Zoe for this award and also taken the time to thank the Teaching Assistant’s for their great work too.
“This makes me feel proud of the hard work of all of our pupils and staff, and certainly reaffirms that parents are pleased with what we offer at St. Giles School.
“Zoe is very compassionate, sensitive and caring in all aspects of her work and we are privileged to have her as our school nurse... we are all rooting for her!”
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