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Fiona Brown
Nurse & clinical manager, Marie Curie

Fiona Brown“Fiona and her team support the families of patients with terminal illnesses to enable patients to return and remain at their own homes, ensuring all shifts are covered and every patient is met every day. Marie Curie ensure that person-centred care is provided throughout care – something Fiona really believes in – and the quality of care they deliver is to a high standard. Fiona has a massive heart working in a demanding environment.”

Fiona’s friend outlines why she has nominated Fiona for the Nurse of the Year Award:

Fiona works for Marie Curie within the community in Hampshire, providing end of life palliative care to people who have been diagnosed with cancer and other terminal illnesses. The Marie Curie Day Service in Eastleigh, in the south east, is for patients eligible for fast track palliative care of 12 weeks or less.

Fiona was nominated for her work and dedication as a nurse working within the community. Working to ensure all patients’ needs are met and supporting them and their families at end of life, Fiona always maintains professionalism in a role that can be emotionally draining.

Fiona is a nurse and a clinical manager responsible for a team of nurses and goes above and beyond to ensure that every patient receives the best care at all times. If Fiona and the team at Marie Curie were not there, patients would not be able to spend their last days at home with their family.

How did you feel when you found out you had been nominated?

I learnt of it initially from my friend who nominated me. I was surprised and excited when I heard. Work is very busy and the world of palliative care that I work in can be very absorbing, so it was such a lovely thing to hear. Patients and their families say thank you, but it’s particularly nice to be recognised outside of my usual peer group.

Which charity would you be supporting if you won the Nurse of the Year Award?

I’ll be supporting Marie Curie. Although I work for Marie Curie I would really love to give something back and raise some money for them. Marie Curie is the UK’s leading charity for people with any terminal illness and needs to raise funds all the time. Marie Curie employs more than 2,700 nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals and has nine hospices across the UK – caring for people with all terminal illnesses, including terminal cancer, towards the end of their lives.

They help patients, and everyone affected by their prognosis to achieve the best quality of life and support them to keep their independence and dignity for as long as possible. This includes treating or managing pain and other symptoms with medicines, therapies and other specialist approaches. It also means giving emotional support to when they need it most.

What do you think makes an outstanding healthcare professional?

You need to be kind and caring, delivering person-centred care and making sure that you do exactly what a patient wants in a compassionate way. Communication is key – you must make sure patients don’t feel vulnerable and respect their wishes. It’s ultimately about doing the right thing for the patient in your care.

Tell us a little more about your NHS career and experience.

I graduated in Adult Nursing at Manchester University with placements including Wythenshawe Hospital, Trafford General and the Manchester Royal Infirmary. I then spent a year in Moseley Hospital, Birmingham Community in the Advanced Medical Unit before moving to the Royal Marsden in London where I worked for three years.

I moved to the Royal Marsden because of their reputation and expertise. They do their very best for patients every day, it’s a special place. Whilst there I worked in surgical and covered areas including gynaecology, sarcoma and chemotherapy. I enjoyed working in palliative care and learnt a lot.

I have a partner in the Navy, so we moved to Portsmouth where I worked at the Queen Alexandra Hospital. Then, eighteen months ago, I wanted to get back into cancer care and end of life, so I joined Marie Curie where I started as a senior nurse and have since taken on management responsibility as well as looking after a team of 28 staff members.

What does nursing mean to you?

To me it’s about maintaining the dignity and respect for patients. It’s not about what you do each day, but about making a difference.

It’s a demanding environment and I love it. It can be difficult to switch off, but I must. It’s stressful and busy but when a patient says something nice its very rewarding.

What inspired you to become a nurse?

My Mum, who is a nurse and a very caring person. She is a gynaecology sister at Stafford. I admire her a lot because she worked full time when she was bringing up my sisters and I with just four years between us. Mum would go above and beyond, and say just be polite and kind.

Who have been your role models in the nursing profession throughout your career?

Apart from my mum who has been an important role model for me, I also have a family friend who is Head of Nursing in a Manchester Hospital who says you can do anything if you work hard.

I also looked up to my Ward Manager at the Royal Marsden who was hard working and ran the ward as well as managing it. She was always on the early shift every day and supported the team in many ways - she was inspirational in putting patients first.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you have received about nursing?

The work we do is about the patient, so we should be delivering patient-centred care.

What is the most challenging part of being a nurse?

Letting go, shutting off and time pressures. You can’t always complete your To-Do list for the day, but you must hand it over. Letting go and coming back the next day fresh is not always easy, and it highlights the importance of delegating correctly.

What do you think has been the impact of your work on others?

It was brought home to me best with a patient’s family I once dealt with.

The wife of a patient had become very confused through a lack of communication. With all the emotion surrounding her she became very distressed by all the different Multi-Disciplinary teams going in. She just couldn’t cope at that moment.

We came in and gave her some breathing space, so that she could get away from the situation even for just half an hour.

When she came back she thanked us and said it had helped her. It was just what she needed. She was so grateful to have that time to calm down, as she did not want her husband in his final hours seeing her upset and angry.

I often think of this.

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