24 May 2022

Sheffield student shortlisted for national nursing award

A student from the University of Sheffield is in the running for a national nursing award for her research into how hospitals, and other acute care settings, can make dementia patients feel more comfortable during their stay.

Three nurses walking down a hospital corridor
  • Student nurse, Emma Peet, has been nominated for a national nursing award for her clinical research aimed to make dementia patients more comfortable in hospital
  • Emma put together a three point plan from her research to assist dementia patients when they are eating and drinking
  • The plan, which has been warmly received by Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, includes measures such as a revised dementia training programme for staff, environmental modification to avoid sensory overload for dementia patients, and feeding skill workshops
  • The finals of the awards are taking place on Friday (Friday 27 May 2022) and recognise the brightest talent making their way into nursing

A student from the University of Sheffield is in the running for a national nursing award for her research into how hospitals, and other acute care settings, can make dementia patients feel more comfortable during their stay.

Emma Peet is an undergraduate student studying Adult Nursing at The University of Sheffield. She has been shortlisted for the Student Nursing Times Student Nurse or Midwife of the Year: Clinical Research award after putting together a three point plan of recommendations to ensure that dementia patients feel as comfortable as possible, and supported when eating and drinking.

Common symptoms of dementia such as memory loss and difficulties with thinking and problem-solving can make it more difficult to eat and drink well. Additionally, as dementia progresses it affects the area of the brain that controls swallowing, which means that in advanced dementia the person may have a weak swallow or lose the ability to swallow safely.

The recommendations include:

  1. Using web-based and face to face training to improve staff knowledge of dementia, how it affects people and how it changes their day-to-day life. This development of foundation knowledge has been proven to improve oral nutritional intake.
  2. Making environmental modifications including dimmed lighting, spaced seating and switching off TVs, which can help dementia patients feel much more comfortable as the condition can cause sensory changes such as peripheral vision loss and decreases in concentration.
  3. Creating a specific feeding skills workshop so that staff can develop appropriate feeding skills and approaches to support people with dementia with their eating and drinking.

    Emma presented her findings to Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, who have said that they are happy for her to contribute her research findings into their ongoing development of care and services for dementia patients.

    A headshot of Emma Peet, who has been shortlisted for a Student Nursing Times Award

    Emma Peet, finalist of the award from the University of Sheffield’s Health Sciences School, said: “Knowing that the research I have conducted has a positive impact on improving dementia care is a great feeling. The three recommendations allow staff to develop their knowledge and skills to best support dementia patients with eating and drinking whilst in the acute care setting.

    “Having effective feeding skills and developing approaches to giving assistance ensures each patient receives the right support that meets their individual needs. Within this, creating a calm environment is essential in not overstimulating the patient, allowing them to concentrate better at meal times.

    “Being shortlisted for this award is an amazing personal achievement and something I am truly proud of. But more importantly, I have been able to be a true advocate for undergraduate nursing research and empower other students to get involved. I’d like to thank The School of Nursing and Midwifery at The University of Sheffield and The Student Nursing Times for all their support!”

    The awards, taking place next Friday (Friday 27 May 2022) recognise the brightest talent making their way into nursing; highlighting a student nurse who has shown themselves to be a true advocate for clinical research. This could be by promoting it to their peers through their experience, or raising the profile of clinical research placements through positive impacts.

    Rachael Duckworth, one of Emma’s lecturers from the University of Sheffield’s Health Sciences School, said: “There are over 55 million people living with a diagnosis of dementia worldwide, with approximately 10 million new cases each year. Emma, through her research, has highlighted the need to improve the health outcomes of individuals who are admitted to acute care settings by introducing evidence based strategies to reduce the risk of malnutrition.

    “The Division of Nursing and Midwifery are extremely proud of Emma’s achievement in being shortlisted for the national Nursing Times Student Nurse or Midwife of the Year award for Clinical Research and equally proud of how her work has the potential to make a long lasting and positive difference to the lives and health outcomes of patients.”


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