Written by Laura Tomlinson, Relationship Manager at the Unsung Hero Awards.
Amanda Piper – Unsung Hero Ancillary Winner has a heart of gold!10th June 2019
On Friday, May 31st, the UHA had a special visit to the Sally Sherman Ward in the East Ham Care Centre. The centre is part of East London NHS Foundation Trust and is a 19 bedded, mixed sex ward specialising in care for residents of Newham who have cognitive impairment and challenging behaviour.
Amanda Piper being awarded at the 2019 Unsung Hero Awards in Ancillary.
It is also home to our 2019 winner for Leader of the Year in Ancillary: Amanda Piper, Housekeeper, and her nominator Tracy Connellan, Clinical Nurse Manager. Tracy has been a Housekeeper on the ward for 7 years, prior to this she was a Nursing Assistant who wasn’t initially sure that a switch to a non-medical role was the right ‘fit’ for her.
Tracy Connellan with nominee Amanda Piper.
However, 7 years later and Amanda calls the Sally Sherman Ward “home” and says that she isn’t going anywhere soon. As Housekeeper, Amanda’s role covers the smooth running of the ward, whether it’s maintenance issues, stores ordering, having curtains cleaned, new furniture ordered, menus developed, welcoming visitors to the ward, and more, it’s a varied role.
One thing that was immediately evident about Sally Sherman Ward was its welcoming environment and team.
Multidisiplinary Team of the Sally Sheman Ward.
An ‘Appreciation Board’ is on show for residents and visitors to be comforted by, as well as a ‘Sally Sherman Team board’, which highlights all the employees by name, how long each has worked in mental health, as well as what they most like to do in their spare time.
The Sally Sherman Appreciation Board.
As a reuslt of being part of this team, Amanda regularly attends courses on dementia and refreshes her mandatory training. She is also part of the Quality Improvement Team on the ward, and most recently successfully delivered a carers engagement with the team. Amanda and the team next target quality improvement project is to focus on improving their patient’s oral hygiene.
Amanda is an active and avid listener, which she states is fundamental in her role of caring for patients, and subsequently their relatives. During our time with Amanda we also met with Tracy Connellan, who stated in Amanda’s nomination: “I have never met a staff member like Amanda, her kindness and commitment to the patients we care for is gold standard. She is able to talk ‘their language’, despite the progression of dementia. She is our Unsung Hero, quietly going about her job, we all say that we wish she would care for us when we grow old. She has a heart of gold.”
Before our interview with Amanda took place, we had a brief tour of the centre and saw rooms like the ‘Sensory Room’, which was kitted out with soft furniture, a LED carpeted floor, low level lighting, sensory wall items and music from a by-gone era. One thing that Amanda said to us during the tour was about positive ways to engage the patient group. Playing music and films from their youth can have a calming and connecting effect.
The Sensory Room: dimmed light, twinkly carpet, soft touch items and music playing from a by-gone era.
Continuing the tour, we were given brief access to a patient’s room as he was currently elsewhere. The room was spotlessly clean, like the centre in general, a nod to the domestics who Amanda describes as “Unsung Heroes” in their own rights, and who will carry on cleaning spillages past their initial duties. The patient’s room wasn’t only clean and bright, but it was very touching to see pictures of them when they were young adorning the walls. As well as photos of their family and now grown-up children, friends who visit them on a regular basis, and laminated flash cards which describe their likes and dislikes; their personality bit by bit.
Every ward in the centre is thoughtfully decorated and impeccably clean.
After the tour concluded we were joined briefly by Sean Delaney, Sean is a Communications Manager for East London NHS Foundation Trust and who we must thank for organising our visit. Sean contacted us post the 2019 Awards to cement a Trust visit from both sides. The UHA have received solid support from many Communication Teams across the UK for the past few years, and as a “Thank You” we have a brand-new Communications Category for the 2020 nominations, specially created to give back to this vital non-medical area of the NHS.
We interviewed Amanda for our Youtube channel and after the interview was wrapped, we were invited to stay for the afternoon’s events: live music with a local Gospel singer. Naturally we were interested to see how this centre provides regular entertainment for its residents.
The afternoon event was a fitting way to end this already touching visit. Amanda took us downstairs, past the on-site hairdressers and into the garden, which for a city like London was spacious, and more impressively, very quiet! It was a beautiful, well-kept space that had been decorated by some of the patients in art and craft sessions. The sun came out just in time for us to listen to the soulful singing of Dionne, who entertained the patients and had many up and dancing along with their carers. Other patients were visibly enjoying themselves and their every need was catered for: sun hats to take off the sun were provided, percussion instruments to join in, drinks and a sweet treat to refresh them.
Pateints involved with afternoon activities – a gospel singer warmed heart and souls.
It was at this point that we were briefly introduced to a lovely young volunteer who was cheerfully making all the carers and patients drinks, and also, a young porter by the name of Elliot Barrow, who was praised by other members of staff for his easy going nature and up-beat demeanour in what can be a naturally challenging environment to work in. Once we had enjoyed the talented and melodic singing of Dionne and had seen many patients, their family and carers enjoying the present moment, it was time to say farewell to Amanda and Tracy.
Elliot Barrow, porter, is one of the centres youngest employees.
We made sure to leave the hardworking staff with some UHA goody bags and were led outside by Amanda, past the friendly receptionist Claire and back to our car. We were treated with special attention and care all day from Amanda, Tracy and all the staff we met on the Sally Sherman Ward. In reality, it’s these people who deserve not only our recognition, but a massive thanks and praise for what is a tireless, yet vital job.
The garden space is well cared for and reflects the Sally Sherman Ward as a whole.
The Sally Sherman Ward, and staff like Amanda Piper, allow some of the most vulnerable members of society to be cared for in a way that is second to none. The visit left a large and positive impression on us and we must again give a shout out to Amanda for her first class work behind the scenes. Amanda embodies the core values of the NHS: Passion, Dedication and Hard Work, and from all of us at the UHA we say “THANK YOU” Amanda Piper, Tracy Connellan and the multidisciplinary team of the Sally Sherman ward for all that you do!