Royal College of Nursing Awards

Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year Awards 8th June 2017

Award Winner

Sarah Penney

Sarah’s nomination focuses upon her leadership of a development programme, My Home Life, providing support to care home managers in order to improve the quality of life for patients and residents.

Sarah Penney

Sarah secured the support of home owners to release staff in order to attend monthly action learning sets and quality improvement workshops.

She also recognised that the success of the programme would depend upon the active engagement of patients, residents, relatives and staff. As a consequence of the programme, participants developed their leadership skills and promoted positive cultural change within care homes, with staff reporting high levels of job satisfaction and a greater capacity to cope with stresses and demands.

The programme has also led to the introduction of a range of successful practice development initiatives, such as revision of the pre-admission assessment protocol and the production of a short film promoting best practice. My Home Life has enhanced understanding of the need to maintain the dignity and individual identity of patients with end-stage dementia and/or severe communication difficulties, as well as facilitating the direct involvement of patients in decisions about their care.

A Reading Rooms programme was introduced and links established with local schools and voluntary organisations in order to promote inter-generational contact.

Sarah Penney

Finally, an information resource has been developed for people living with dementia, and their carers, in considering moving to a care home.

The My Home Life programme has been widely shared at professional and academic conferences, as well as within a UK-wide collaborative aiming to improve the quality of life in care homes. It is also endorsed by a range of key organisations, including Age NI, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority, and the Independent Health and Care Providers.

The judging panel was impressed by Sarah’s enthusiasm and how she inspires others to be the best they can be, noting also that she is clearly fulfilled by what she does and has empowered those with whom she works.

Improving the quality of life in care homes in Northern Ireland

Sarah Penney presents at the British Society of Gerontology Northern Ireland - 'My Home Life' - Improving the quality of life in care homes in Northern Ireland.