“Truly wonderful” nurse Sara Phillips has won an award from the British Lung Foundation (BLF) for outstanding care, after being nominated by her patients.
Sara leads the Creado team, based at North Devon District Hospital. It was set up three years ago to help people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – one of the biggest causes of hospitalisation and death in the UK.
The condition mainly affects smokers as they get older, damaging and narrowing the airways and making it harder to breathe. There is no cure.
The Creado team aim to see every patient with COPD who comes into hospital, helping them to get back home rapidly by arranging support and equipment. The patient and their family are then visited regularly afterwards.
They also run a rehabilitation programme to help COPD patients manage their own condition, with exercise, lifestyle advice and other expert help. Sessions run twice a week for six weeks, at village halls around North Devon.
This work is backed up with monthly Breathe Easy support groups for COPD patients, which Sara helps organise at local venues.
The award was for “outstanding healthcare in the community” across the whole of the BLF’s South West Region, covering Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Wiltshire, Avon, Gloucester and the Channel Islands.
Sara’s nomination came from Lesley Ryley and her husband Derek, from Barnstaple. It said: “We wish to nominate Sara Phillips for her energy, dedication, enthusiasm and undeterred commitment to all her patients in our community. She has a bright, vivacious character which pulls everyone else along with her. Sara is passionate in improving life for her patients and we have benefited so much from it.
“She has looked after Derek since his diagnosis, when he was very low in health and mind, but she has pulled him through to accept his condition and learn how to pace his life.
“Her support for the carers of her patients is also outstanding. I am always asked how I am feeling and coping with Derek’s illness. This thoughtful attention helps us all cope – no-one is left out.
“She has become our ‘Sister Sara’. Even our grandchildren know their granddad’s nurse ‘Sister Sara’.
“A truly wonderful, dedicated nurse and leader with a happy outward personality who infuses confidence and care to all her patients and their carers. She has taken the worry of COPD off our shoulders and put some fun back into our lives.”
The award came as a complete surprise to Sara, who thought she was going to a regular Breathe Easy meeting.
She said: “I’m really pleased. It’s important because it comes from the patients – that’s what makes it special. I love what I do, so something like this is great.”