A Bristol nurse has been handed one of the first-ever National Social Care awards by the government’s chief nurse for adult social care, in recognition of his outstanding work in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Clinical nurse advisor Reuben Collings works for social care charity Milestones Trust which supports people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and dementia in the South West.
An experienced adult nurse who began working for the Trust in 2014, Reuben led the organisation’s pandemic response and has been instrumental in enabling front line teams to keep the people Milestones Trust supports and its staff safe.
Reuben took responsibility for everything from briefing staff and supporting colleagues with the emotional burden of Covid-19 to developing and conducting infection control audits and procuring PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), something that he said he never would have imagined would have been part of the job.
Arranging and ensuring all staff members were appropriately trained, collecting data, supporting staff who were trapped abroad at the start of the pandemic and liaising with local authorities and Public Health England also became part of Reuben’s day to day work.
The new Social Care Awards were announced by the government in May this year and are designed to celebrate outstanding contributions to adult social care and offer recognition in line with national NHS staff awards.
Unaware of his nomination, the 30-year-old was presented with his silver award at a surprise, socially-distanced staff gathering by Milestones Trust’s director of operations, Jeff Parry. The government’s chief nurse for adult social care Professor Deborah Study joined the event online to say a few words about Reuben’s dedication and innovation.
Possibly the most difficult moment, Reuben recalls, came over Easter weekend 2020 when government guidance on PPE changed almost overnight from staff being told to wear PPE only when someone they were supporting had symptoms of Covid-19 to all staff being required to wear PPE at all times. PPE was in such scarce supply in the weeks that followed, that Reuben set up contracts with suppliers around the world. This meant on some occasions sourcing translators to ensure that the masks we received were of the right standard.
Hilary Crowhurst, chief executive for Milestones Trust said:
“Reuben’s calm, pragmatic and above-all incredibly caring approach enabled our frontline staff to navigate what has been a traumatic and often frightening time with greater confidence, by making sure that the skills, equipment and information were there in the right place and at the right time.
“He is cheerful, pragmatic, and staff trust what he says. This has been critical, at a time when so much information and advice was confused. He regularly reviewed, interpreted and disseminated complex, sometimes even contradictory guidance, getting information to those who need it around the clock and over a seven-day week.
“Reuben is a highly talented and professional nurse. He embodies the spirit and professionalism of modern nursing and we are delighted to see his skills and achievements recognised with this new, national award.”
“It’s a great honour to receive one of the first of these important new awards, which recognise the importance of social care alongside healthcare.
“I’ve been really impressed and hugely proud of our staff and the resilience of the people we support through this strange and difficult time. It’s forced us to work in a completely different way, but people have been open to that and have taken the changes in their stride.”