An employee of Highland Hospice has been shortlisted in the ‘Nurse of the Year’ category of the Nursing Times Awards 2019. Susan Smith, who has worked for the charity for over 30 years, was nominated by her colleague Carol Seaton for her vision and dedication in setting up and delivering the Hospice’s Helping Hands befriending service.
Service Manager Susan originated Helping Hands in Ross-shire in 2016 for people with advancing illness, and introduced it to Inverness in 2018. She has also extended the service throughout the Highlands through partnership organisations, tailored to the needs of individual communities.
Helping Hands in Inverness and Ross-shire is available to people with any life limiting illness who have ongoing health issues. It currently supports 80-90 people with, on average, eight new referrals each month. The service is tailored to each client’s needs, and Susan helps to recruit, train and support volunteers to enable them to support its users. She also works closely with professionals and community organisations to ensure people know about the service and the value it can bring to people’s lives.
Helping Hands Service Co-ordinator Carol Seaton explains, “Susan’s drive to support people within their own communities is phenomenal. She is able to relate to everybody and is a born communicator. Her use of Facebook and video clips have really helped to explain Helping Hands to a range of people – and it was Susan who was able to demonstrate the benefits of tailoring each service to its own community’s needs through partnerships with existing organisations, rather than using the original Ross-shire model for all.”
“Importantly, Susan has managed to help people see that hospices can help at any stage of your illness and you need not be dying to get the benefits of a befriending service. She truly is an inspiration to her colleagues because of her sheer determination, passion and drive.”
Susan Smith added, “It was a lovely surprise to hear that I have been shortlisted for this prestigious award. I am so grateful to Carol and all of the Hospice staff, volunteers and groups in each community for their support and help in setting up and developing the Helping Hands service.”
Susan will be interviewed by the judging panel in September, before the awards on Wednesday 31 October in London’s Grosvenor House in Park Lane.