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You Made a Difference - April 2024

A linen room assistant who pulled out all the stops to reunite a patient with a beloved teddy and a passionate and dedicated clinical nurse specialist are our winners of the April You Made a Difference awards.

Bethany Blackford sorting hospital linen
Bethany Blackford, linen room assistant, hotel services

Beth joined CUH in May 2011 as a part-time linen room assistant but very soon became a full-time member of the team. Beth’s role involves receiving deliveries of linen and taking it to the clinics, receiving orders for linen via the telephone, measuring staff for uniforms and arranging uniform exchanges.

Beth is known for being a hard worker and an important cog in the linen services machine. Her dedication to ensuring that staff are measured correctly for their uniforms, and that trolleys are packed each day, is second to none.

Very often staff who work behind the scenes can be forgotten; but Beth, and dedicated colleagues like her, keep things flowing.

Sometimes it’s just not possible to find patients belongings that get mixed up with the linen which goes back to the laundry facility offsite, but Beth will do everything possible to help a patient. Beth pulls out all the stops and we’re very proud of her attitude to not give up.

Bethany Blackford holding her YMAD winner certificate alongside colleagues April 2024
Beth Blackford and colleagues

Extracts from Beth’s nomination, submitted by the relative of a patient, said:

“During my mum’s admission to Addenbrooke’s, she became aware that she had lost a teddy given to her during a previous admission by my autistic son, to look after her.

“My mum had been transferred between wards and wasn't really sure when she’d lost the teddy. We retraced steps and narrowed it down to a 48 hour window. I called the access office to enquire about lost property. I also rang the laundry. The wonderful Bethany answered, and despite saying there was little hope, asked if I could email her a photo of the missing bear. Bethany said she would send this over to the facility where the laundry was sent.

“I didn't hold much hope and resigned myself to having to break my son’s heart and indeed my mum’s. Ted had come to mean a lot to her. I started looking for a match on eBay but this ted turned out to be discontinued and quite rare.

“Just a few hours later I received a call from Bethany. She knew where our bear was and arranged to have him brought to her at Addenbrooke’s after the weekend. Once she had him she organised for us to collect him.

“She was so pleased she could help, and I cannot tell you how much it meant to us!

I was in tears and extremely grateful! I don't know how much work Bethany had to put in to getting him back for us, but I am truly in debt to her forever!

Cat Yates standing in front of medical equipment
Cat Yates, clinical nurse specialist, critical care education

Cat Yates has been in the critical care clinical nurse specialist team for over 10 years. Within this role she has helped to improve the patient journey post critical care, which at times is challenging and difficult for families.

Cat, along with the team, has developed clinics that provide space for patients and families to come to terms with life changing injuries and illnesses with practical help and psychological support. By spending time with patients and families before they leave the intensive care unit (ICU) to explain the next step going to the ward and visiting them on the wards to ensure their recovery is going well.

Cat is instrumental in improving care along the recovery pathway.

Another part of Cat’s role is supporting patients in their last days of life. This sometimes involves sitting with the children of these patients and explaining what is happening with their parents. This is an emotive time for all the team as they emotionally support and guide the family. Through this process Cat is a role model to new staff.

Cat is passionate about the recovery process for critical care patients and their loved ones and has dedicated herself to the team and the service it provides. She has presented the work of the critical care clinical nurse specialist team at international and national conferences, raising the profile of critical care recovery.

Cat Yates holding her YMAD winner certificate alongside colleagues
Cat Yates and colleagues

Extracts from Cat’s nomination, submitted by a patient, said:

“It has been two years since I was a patient on the neuro critical care unit (NCCU). Despite that length of time, when I contacted the department with some questions, Cat without hesitation arranged for me and my wife to come visit her and see the unit.

“Qualities of Cat that really stood out to me during that visit were: her extreme sensitivity towards me re-visiting a ward which had quite frankly given me nightmares.

“She continuously checked on my wellbeing when I was exposed to the sights, smells and sounds of the unit, and when explaining some of the equipment used.

“Her candour, and frank open honesty in answering my questions many of which were of an extremely personal nature.

“Cat had taken the trouble to identify the NCCU beds that I had stayed in. She was able to take us to those beds and explain the array of equipment beside them.

Despite my stay being two years ago, Cat had also sought to identify my nurses at the time of my stay.

“Cat sat with my wife and I and explained about delirium, giving us insight into my treatment in NCCU and how that treatment may have manifested itself into my delirium.

“I had a question about my plasma exchange as it occurred whilst I was on NCCU. Despite it not being a NCCU process, Cat had taken the trouble to look into it and research my records so that she was able to give me an answer to my question.

Cat’s professionalism and commitment are a credit to the hospital and her department.