Outreach nurse and social worker granted Queen’s Nurse title

December 21, 2021

Kat Saunders, Clinical Manager for Health Outreach at Essex Partnership University Hospitals NHS Trust, has been awarded the title of Queen’s Nurse for her work with marginalised and vulnerable adults within the community.

The Queen’s Nurse (QN) title is awarded to individual nurses who have demonstrated a high level of commitment to patient care, nursing practice and innovation. The QN programme brings together community nurses to develop their professional skills and deliver outstanding patient care in the community.

Kat is the clinical manager for EPUT’s Health Outreach NHS service and she is also an Outreach Nurse and Social Worker. The Health Outreach service covers the county of Suffolk, providing care and support in community settings, hostels, on the street or in the home to vulnerable groups.

The communities that the service engages are the homeless, gypsies and travellers, refugees and asylum seekers, migrant workers, ex-offenders and Black and Minority Ethnic groups. The service provides access to healthcare and treatment to people who find it difficult to access mainstream services. The team is made up of general and mental health nurses, social workers, locum general practitioner sessions, associate practitioners, support and advice workers, office administrative staff and a trainer.

Kat said of her award: “I feel extremely honoured to accept the Queen’s Nurse title and I couldn’t have done it without my team, who are always incredibly supportive of my ideas. We treat every person as an individual, looking at their unique circumstances and deciding how we can best support them. As a team, we are good at adapting and evolving our service to keep up with the changing needs of our service users. I am really proud of this award but also of the wonderful team that helps to make it all happen.”

Adrian Kirkby, Service Manager, said of Kat’s award: “A Queen’s Nurse promotes the highest standards of patient care in the community, I can’t think of anyone more suited to the Queen’s Nurse title than Kat. She strives tirelessly for exceptional patient care and is an inspirational clinical leader for the Marginalised and Vulnerable Adults team in Suffolk. Kat’s experience and passion for this complex area of work and her ongoing learning and sharing best practice made her a standout candidate to represent EPUT and Suffolk at the Queen’s Nursing Institute.”

The service’s work supporting homeless people during the Covid-19 pandemic saw the team responded quickly and efficiently, working with borough councils and other local organisations to ensure the health and safety of the homeless community. As a result of this work, they saw an increase in the health of their patients, with wounds healing, treatment for Hepatitis C being accessed and patients accessing drug and alcohol treatment for the first time. They saw individuals who rarely sought care engaging in health opportunities.

Another example of how the service is providing innovative access to healthcare is by joint working to support the commissioning of a mobile dental bus provision to the local homeless community, which has been well received. This has increased the team’s engagement with clients regarding oral health. In addition, pre-Covid, the team took to the wards at Ipswich Hospital to provide support to their nursing colleagues and to identify marginalised and vulnerable people in need of additional input pre and post discharge, this enabled individuals to remain more compliant with treatment and ensured good quality follow up care.

The service is now ramping up their efforts to support the arrivals of many refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East and the creation of innovative responses, led by Kat, are being developed and put into practice.

Kat added: “I have the fortunate position of working with some of the most vulnerable individuals in society; those experiencing exclusion and marginalisation. As a nurse, my principle values are those of care and compassion; I meet every vulnerable person with warmth and consideration of their own unique stories, sets of circumstances and needs. I love my job, and the staff, clients and multi-agencies I work with. The service I lead is one that has strong partnerships with the communities it cares for and places the client at the centre. It is amazing how the power of pulling individual services together can action transformative solutions for complex patients.”

How to contact the service?

Members of the public who believe they are experiencing health disadvantage can self-refer to the service in person by visiting the address below, or contacting the team via:

Email: suffolk.smash@nhs.net

Telephone: 01473 341763