Concerned that the emotional impact of the accident was delaying her recovery, Sandhya Blakey, ward sister in surgery at East Surrey Hospital in Redhill, arranged for the patient to visit the horse.
“She identified that would be the one the thing that may well be key to the patient’s recovery”
Ms Blakey safely escorted the patient, who had been in hospital for two to three weeks but was struggling to engage in rehabilitation, in a wheelchair to the stables and also organised for her family to be there to support her.
The experience gave the patient a boost and led to her being discharged a short time later.
The actions of Ms Blakey were highlighted by inspectors from the Care Quality Commission which today rated East Surrey Hospital as “outstanding” following a visit between October and November 2018.
Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust (SASH), which runs the hospital, now also has an overall rating of “outstanding” – the highest achievable from the CQC.
The trust is understood to be one of just nine in England to hold the top rating.
Jamie Moore, divisional chief nurse in surgery at East Surrey Hospital, explained that Ms Blakey took the initiative to organise the trip after she identified that, while the patient did not have extensive spinal injuries, her “fear and anxiety” surrounding the fall was preventing her from getting back on her feet.
He added that being reunited with the horse appeared to have a “real positive impact” on the patient’s recovery when she returned to hospital.
“I think the ability to rehab was more evident and the motivation to rehab and to actively participate with care and rehab back on the ward was much more apparent,” Mr Moore told Nursing Times.
“This goes back to compassion and care being at the heart of what it is we do”
He expressed his pride in Ms Blakey and the other members of the team who supported her to make the trip happen.
“I think it’s great that she identified that would be the one the thing that may well be key to the patient’s recovery and was able to put that in place,” Mr Moore said.
Jane Dickson, chief nurse at SASH, highlighted that this was not a one-off case, but rather a compelling example of the lengths her staff went to day in and day out to look after their patients.
“This goes back to compassion and care being at the heart of what it is we do,” she told Nursing Times.
“It goes back to us wanting to be really sure that we don’t just keep people safe but we promote their wellbeing, that we see them as individuals and we involve the people that they love in the care they get, and that we are kind to each other as colleagues,” she said.
jamie moore divisional chief nurse surgery
In fact, the CQC highlighted similar acts of kindness from the nursing staff at the hospital, including arranging for an end-of-life care patient with a passion for steam engines to spend the day at a nearby steam railway.
Ms Dickson said nurses were going the extra the mile, despite being under “huge pressure” from issues facing all trusts across the country, such as staffing shortages and rising demand.
Asked if workforce challenges ever stood in the way of staff being able to provide top care, she said: “One of the things that I think helps us to be successful in what we do and to be outstanding is that Sandhya would have spent a lot of her own time investing in this with colleagues.
“She would have done some of it in work time and some of it over and above that because she felt it was important to do, so I don’t think staffing levels prohibit people going over and above but what is really important is that we as an organisation value it, and that we acknowledge it,” she added.
Ms Dickson said it was embedded into the culture of the organisation for staff to provide “person-centred care” and to recognise that recovery was “about more than just mending broken bones”.
“The hard work makes a real difference to the lives of people using the services”
Overall, SASH was found to have improved since its previous inspection from the CQC in 2014 when it was rated “good”.
The trust now has an overall rating of “outstanding” and in the five domains it is considered “outstanding” in care, responsiveness and leadership, and “good” in safety and caring.
Professor Edward Baker, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, said: “The trust’s determination to develop a culture of continuous improvement has improved services for patients across the board – enough to ensure that the overall rating has moved to ‘outstanding’.”
He added: “The hard work makes a real difference to the lives of people using the services. Everyone who has played a part in this should be proud of this great achievement.”
jane dickson chief nurse
In March 2015, SASH was selected by NHS Improvement to participate in a five-year development partnership to improve the quality, financial sustainability and performance of the trust, working in partnership with the Virginia Mason Institute in Seattle.
Anne Eden, South East regional director for NHS Improvement and NHS England, said the trust’s success “demonstrates what is possible when the NHS is not afraid to learn from excellence in others”.
“The transformation and improvement to take the trust to one of only a handful to be rated outstanding across the country is incredible,” she added. “An ‘outstanding’ rating from the CQC is never easily won.”
Unusually, the government has also commented on the trust’s improvement, with care minister Caroline Dinenage congratulating the organisation.
She said: “To be rated as ‘outstanding’ reflects the level of commitment staff at Surrey and Sussex trust invest into their roles to ensure every patient in their care is treated safely and with compassion, kindness and respect.”