A Mental Health Nursing student at Magee was this week celebrating after winning the 2015 Andrew Parker Student Nurse Award at a ceremony at The Savoy Hotel in London.
Third year Ulster University student Mark Collins from Derry was shortlisted for the prestigious national Nursing Awards after he developed an art therapy project during.
The project resulted from a six-week placement in the Western Health and Social Care Trust’s acute mental health ward for over-65s at the Waterside Hospital.
Using a ‘Tree of Regrowth and Recovery’, the initiative involves improving patient self-esteem and social skills which involves displaying patient artwork.
Finding few group activities for patients, Mark combined his art and nursing background to promote social interaction on the ward.
He’d previously been an Art Studies student but switched to Mental Health Nursing after a relative took their own life.
During his placement he recognised that he could combine skills from both academic disciplines to promote social interaction amongst patients.
Mark said: “I used my art background to create something that would motivate the patients, allowing them to join in and socially interact.
“I talked to the patients to see how they felt about it, ensuring it was a positive experience from the outset. The patients told me that the things that made them happy encompassed wildlife and nature so I used that as the project theme.
“It was an extremely positive experience – patients could talk about what made them happy rather than their mental illness.”
Although Mark’s placement has now finished, the project on the ward is ongoing as every patient has a different story and a different outlook on what keeps them positive.
Mark is now developing a business case to extend the concept and he intends to replicate the project where he can.
Professor Owen Barr, Head of the School of Nursing at Magee praised Mark’s for his innovative approach.
He said: “His project demonstrates clearly how art based approaches can be a very positive and powerful part of the work of skilled nurses when supporting people with mental health issues.
“Mark’s passion and innovation in developing this are evident. We’re delighted his work has been nationally recognised in the annual nursing awards.
“It’s a tremendous achievement for him and I expect that he will be in great demand by the nursing community when he graduates.”
The Nursing Standard Nurse Awards ceremony in London was held on May 1st and was attended by finalists, their colleagues, friends and family and all those involved in nursing. The evening consisted of a champagne reception, a three-course dinner including wine and the awards ceremony.
The Andrew Parker Student Nurse Award in association with the RCN Fellows is for student nurses whose nursing practice, perceptions or interactions with patients have changed as a result of an incident or experience during training.
The judging panel included Cecilia Anim, President, Royal College of Nursing, Paul Jebb, Experience of Care Professional Lead, NHS England and Professor Jean White, Chief Nursing Officer (Wales).