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You Made a Difference - October 2021

An exceptionally kind ward clerk with a passion for high standards of patient care and a highly skilled, calm, professional ambassador for children are the winners of October’s You Made a Difference awards.

Mark Allen is sitting at his computer desk, wearing a mask and holding a folder
Mark Allen

Mark Allen started as a health care assistant on ward C8, trauma and orthopaedics, in 2009. Mark is always very passionate about his role, promoting the Trust values, maintaining high standards of care and acting as a role model to junior staff.

In 2017 he transferred into the role of ward clerk for elective orthopaedics. His continued passion for high standards of patient care ensures the patient experience is exemplary from the moment they arrive on the ward for their surgery. Often anxious and overwhelmed with information, Mark greets and reassures them.

Mark is a very much-loved colleague and friend and without doubt all his colleagues past and present would agree that his passion for high standards and gestures of kindness really do make a difference!

This is reflected in the winning nomination from the relative of a patient, extracts of which told us:

“Recently my stepdad was admitted and although I was worried about him, I knew he was in safe hands. My main concern was my mum; they have been married for 32 years and have never been apart for more than a day.

“She was extremely worried which made her incredibly anxious. I told my Mum to phone the ward for updates and when she came off the phone she was relaxed and her anxiety had reduced by a huge amount.

She said she had spoken to a lovely man who put her mind at ease. He kept her informed with regular updates.

“When my mum was allowed to visit I walked her up to the ward desk, as again she was so anxious she could hardly breathe. Mark was there and as soon as he spoke she recognised his voice and it immediately put her mind at ease again.

“When her hour was up he walked her to the door to meet me. She was calm and happy as she had just seen her husband and that he was being well looked after, but also calm as she was being looked after herself. The following day she felt confident enough to get the bus in and walk up to the ward herself. Thank you Mark from all our family.”

Sophie Phillips is stood in a ward environment near some imaging equipment, wearing a mask
Sophie Phillips

Sophie Phillips started at CUH in July 2012 arriving with a wealth of transferable specialist skills and ready for a highly specialist role in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Her role was initially clinical providing specialist speech and language therapy (SLT) input to babies and their families on the neonatal unit. Sophie was also responsible for SLT specialist provision to paediatric oncology.

In 2017 Sophie took on the leadership of the SLT acute children's service, continuing with her specialist clinical work in addition to managing, supporting and developing specialist SLT services to children and their families in acute, intensive care and outpatient settings.

Alongside her clinical expertise, Sophie brings a calm professionalism, clarity of purpose, positivity and resilience under pressure. She is also a well-equipped ambassador for children and their families and for individuals with invisible disabilities.

This is reflected in his nomination, extracts of which said:

“I am nominating Sophie in recognition of her exceptional skill, creativity and painstaking effort creating a clinically valuable and beautifully crafted, stop frame animation to prepare children and their families for video fluoroscopic evaluation of swallowing.

“Sophie is a highly skilled speech and language therapist working with children and their families here at CUH. The families that Sophie and her team work with are often experiencing complex health conditions and will be going through a number of assessments and treatments during their time at CUH as inpatients and outpatients. There is a lot to take in for an adult let alone for a child and the atmosphere, machinery and number of people present, some behind the screen and wearing protective equipment, can be daunting.

With the support of her own young children and the use of some toy people, Sophie has created a brilliant stop frame animation to show to children and their families to explain what to expect, to help answer their questions and to minimise their concern and anxiety ahead of the procedure.

“The video has been very well received on social media and has potential to be applied to other educational and support pieces."

Giving of her own and her family's time and talents in this exceptional way demonstrates exemplary Trust values and will have a positive impact on children and their families at CUH and beyond.

“Sophie has already been asked can it be translated into other languages!”

You can watch Sophie's animation here.