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Nurse to study 'down under' with national scholarship

A Nutritional Nurse Specialist from the region is heading 'down under' to study in Australia after being awarded a prestigious national scholarship.

Linda Warriner, Enteral Nutrition Nurse Specialist for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, has successfully been awarded the 'Florence Nightingale Foundation Travel Scholarship 2012-13.
Linda is part of a dynamic and proactive home enteral feeding team consisting of specialist dietitians and nutritional nurse specialists. The service is quite unique as it is community based whereas nationally it is often provided in the hospital setting.

The Florence Nightingale Foundation is a living memorial to Florence Nightingale and raises funds to provide Research, Travel and Leadership Scholarships for nurses and midwives. Linda will be using her funding award for a study in the UK and Australia which will compare the service provision and guideline development for enteral feeding. Enteral feeding is necessary when a person cannot maintain adequate intake of foods and fluids orally but this can be delivered by a tube directly into the stomach or upper bowel.

Linda, 49 from Butterknowle in County Durham has been nursing for over 20 years. She said: "I strongly believe that good quality care should be provided for all our patients and that this is underpinned by robust policies guidelines and protocols that are evidence based.

"Achieving the scholarship was a challenging process and involved preparing submissions and attending an interview at the foundation's offices in London. I was amazed but delighted to be accepted. It's fantastic; I can't wait to find out what they are doing out there."

Linda is a pioneer in the field of enteral feeding. She sits on a national committee and has been instrumental in reviewing and implementing new polices and guidelines to bring consistency and improved standards to the delivery of care. 

She continued: "I feel that being involved in the national discussions and also now the work I'll undertake as part of the scholarship with benefit patients locally immensely. I am constantly striving to identify improvements or areas where we could be delivering better care and finding solutions to be able to achieve this.

"I am passionate about sharing knowledge and experience with other health care professionals and feel this study will provide an opportunity to have a more global view of service provision. The sharing of knowledge and experience gained within the study could influence service delivery both locally and nationally, offer more choices, treatment options and services to the patient that may improve the patient's quality of life."

Over the past six years the number of patients requiring support with enteral feeding in County Durham and Darlington has more than doubled.

Patients like Graham Cummings. Graham is 48 years old and lives at Chilton. Graham was diagnosed with renal failure in May 1996.  A consultant referred Graham to the home enteral feeding service as he was originally being treated at the James Cook Hospital in Middlesborough. Graham has a naso-gastric tube placed to allow him to take a liquid feed as he was unable to maintain his weight by eating and drinking.

Linda started to provide care for Graham a year ago.   A naso-gastric tube is quite a complex tube to manage in the community and the service supported Graham and his wife to do this independently at home reducing the need for him to travel to Middleborough to have his tube replaced. Mr Cummings then went on to have a PEG inserted and the home enteral feeding team has ensured that Graham and his wife are fully aware of how to maintain and care for the PEG and Graham has gained the confidence to do this independently but can access the service if he should need advice and support.

Graham said: "Linda is a very good nurse and has been there for me and given me advice whenever I have needed it, providing me with the confidence in using the stomach feeding tube. The service has improved my condition immensely and has made a big difference to me and my wife. We even managed to have a three week holiday in Cyprus this year. This is the best I have ever felt, the enteral feeding is keeping me very content."

Linda will fly to Australia in April next year and during her month stay will visit Sydney, Melbourne and possibly Adelaide. She is already using Skype to make contact with nursing teams in Australia which have similar interests and who are also developing guidelines.

Published: 18 December 2012

'Every aspect of my emergency care was dealt with quickly, efficiently and professionally with full explanations and compassion from all staff involved'.

Patient, Emergency Department, Darlington Memorial Hospital