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Putting the 6Cs into practice


Throughout her career, Catherine Ray has gone above and beyond the call of duty

After studying at the University of Central England (now Birmingham City University), Catherine Ray qualified in 2000. Since then, she has worked at Heart of England Foundation Trust in acute medicine, specialising in acute admission and working in the acute medicine unit.

In 2008, Ms Ray was asked to support a band 7 for six months in a winter-pressures ward. Due to that work, her matron encouraged her to pursue ward management, moving her back to acute medicine until a band 7 job became available. In September 2010, she received her band 7 ward manager job as a senior sister at Solihull Hospital - a position she still has today.

Recently Ms Ray was recognised for her exemplary attitude when she was chosen from nearly 40 other entries as the first ever winner of NHS England’s 6Cs Live! Story of the Month competition. Her work was chosen as it showed exceptional nursing practice and embodied the 6Cs, showing care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment towards her patient and his family.

What follows is a summary of Ms Ray’s story in her own words; it is a great example of how nurses can use the 6Cs as a professional compass to provide exceptional care to their patients, even in adverse working conditions.

“A gentleman in his mid-60s was admitted with spinal cord compression secondary to lung cancer and bone metastasis so he was nursed flat and on bed rest. He attended another hospital for radiotherapy.

The ambulance would not permit the family to travel with him so I arranged a hospital taxi to take his wife and daughter for the two-day treatment sessions.

“After the radiotherapy the patient became unwell and perforated his bowel; his prognosis was that he would have a few weeks left to live.

I arranged for a side room with comfortable sofas and chairs (as his daughter was pregnant). The family was given the option of an additional bed in case they wanted to stay overnight.

“After we received the news of his prognosis I approached his wife and asked if they had considered a 4D ultrasound of their daughter’s pregnancy, as the patient was very excited about being a grandfather to a baby boy, but would not live to see him born. They had considered a scan but had not arranged anything, so I approached the radiology department and explained the situation. They were unable to help as they needed a clinical indication to scan.

“I contacted the local private scanning clinic and explained the situation and they agreed to do a free 4D scan and provide a DVD of the baby moving and pictures of the baby’s features. I had a computer put in the side room and, after the scan, the family watched the DVD and compared family likenesses.

“The atmosphere on the ward was indescribable and the patient was so excited to see his grandson. His spirits lifted and the staff were so happy to be a part of it.

“After this, the patient decided he wanted to go home so I coordinated the fast-track NHS continuing healthcare.

It took nine hours but we arranged for him to go home on the same day. I worked late as there were complications with transport to get him home.

“He died peacefully at home on Good Friday (having stayed alive for longer than predicted) with his family around him. The family have been back to the ward a few times to visit and, at the last one, they brought with them the new addition to the family - the healthy baby boy we had seen on the scan!”

Mandie Sunderland, former chief nurse at Heart of England Foundation Trust, summarised Ms Ray’s dedication to the wellbeing of her patient:

“Good nursing requires many skills and attributes that have a positive impact on the patient experience; these are illustrated wonderfully in this short story.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Howard Freeman

● Visit the 6Cs Live! website to see the winners of the story of the month:


Readers' comments (2)

  • What a brilliant role model for students and her colleagues.Well done !
    Reading stories like this make me even more prouder to be a student nurse .

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  • None of this is special or out of the ordinary for even the most junior of nurses. it merely shows the free time she had to do all this. and what of the patient? apparently a pregnant woman gets a 4d scan. who cares about the outcome of the patient from a clinical point of view. this is more bread and circuses. nothing has been achieved here that relates to the patients recovery which is the role of this person.
    call me a cynic but this is zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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