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UHNM wins gold award thanks to volunteer Rachel

UHNM Charity is proud to announce that University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) has won gold in the inaugural My Improvement Network RITA Awards.

RITA, which stands for Reminiscence Interactive Therapy Activities, are a state-of-the-art digital therapy systems which allow patients to use apps and games, watch movies, listen to music and view messages from family members as part of their hospital recovery.

They were funded by UHNM Charity and introduced at both Royal Stoke and County hospitals in 2020.

The award in the category of ‘Best use of RITA in End of Life’, is in recognition of the care given by volunteer Rachel Willett who used the system whilst in a clinical placement at Royal Stoke.

Rachel said: “Having normally worked in admin, I felt volunteering clinically during the first wave of Covid was a great opportunity to do something I’d always wanted to do. I was stationed on Ward 222 and it was whilst I was on there that the lady I was caring for was sadly told her care was now palliative. Having just received such devastating news, I sat with her until her family were able to arrive, having assured them I wasn’t going to leave her side.”

“She was understandably very anxious and worried at the outcome, but using the RITA system to play games and use the entertainment I was able to take her mind off things and even have a laugh with her- we even discovered a mutual interest in rap music! Other members of staff were soon joining in our conversation.”

Rachel has since enrolled at Keele University studying to become a nurse.

She added: “I don’t feel I’ve done anything different to what anybody else would of done. I’m so overwhelmed by it and wasn’t expecting it at all. I’m not at Keel studying to be a nurse and can’t wait to wear blue.”

She was presented with her award by Tracy Bullock, Chief Executive, Ann-Marie Riley, Chief Nurse and Rebecca Ferneyhough, Quality Improvement Facilitator who nominated her for the award with My Improvement Network, the makers of RITA.

Rebecca said: “I met Rachel when she came to be a volunteer at the beginning of the first wave of Covid, moving from non-clinical to clinical areas. During the induction process she was trained on how to use the RITA system so when Rachel went out to work her first shift she asked if there was a RITA. We made then sure there was one available.”

“Whilst RITA has all the digital tools, it needs somebody to use it to interact with it in the way she did to make it shine like it did and I’m so proud of her as this has changed her career pathway.”

Tracy Bullock added: “It was lovely to hear of Rachel’s story which I shared to UHNM board who were all moved by it. It makes me proud to know that our staff are willing to go that extra mile for our patients. What she considered was day to day made a big impact on family and they will remember that forever. These acts of kindness and compassion are what we want in UHNM, Rachel lived our values.”

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