A SENIOR manager at the University of Stirling has won a top nursing award – after leading a project supported by Comic Relief.
Shirley Law - the Director of Practice Development at the University’s Dementia Services Development Centre - scooped the Mental Health Award at the Nurse of the Year Awards 2013.
She accepted her certificate from TV presenter Fiona Phillips at a ceremony in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum earlier this week.
The awards are organised by UK’s best-selling nursing journal, Nursing Standard, to highlight and celebrate excellence in nursing.
Shirley, who lives in Blairgowrie, accepted her award for setting up ground-breaking workshops to help carers of people with dementia.
The three-year project – helping people right across Scotland - has been supported by a £100,000 grant from Comic Relief.
“By January this year, with the support of the team here at the University, we had helped more than 600 carers right across Scotland and hope to reach 1000 people by the end of the year,” said Shirley.
“Winning a Mental Health category award in the Nurse of the Year Awards is a great endorsement for the work we’ve been doing – and the impact of programmes funded by Comic Relief.
“Thousands of people are nominated for these awards, run by the Royal College of Nursing’s journal Nursing Standard. To be a category winner is a great honour and it was quite emotional when my name was read out.
"I’ve personal experience of dealing with dementia – as I care for my mother, who has Alzheimer's. Therefore the project and its impact is particularly important to me.”
She added: “Although I picked up the award, the success really reflects on everyone at the Dementia Centre. They have been crucial to the project’s success and the help it has given to so many people across Scotland.”
Despite growing numbers of people living with dementia in the UK, most receive no support and carers are left to cope as best they can.
Shirley’s workshops have given carers the knowledge and confidence they need to be able to look after their loved ones at home. They have included advice for managing common symptoms and help to access local support. All participants are also given a book called "10 Helpful Hints for Carers" – an easy-to-read guide, for carers living with people with dementia.
Before moving to the University, Shirley used to work as a charge nurse at Blairgowrie Community Hospital. She said old and new colleagues would be thrilled at her success.
That delight is shared by bosses at Comic Relief, preparing for this year’s Red Nose Day.
Gilly Green, Head of UK Grants at Comic Relief, said: “We are delighted that Shirley Law has won this prestigious award – a reflection on the excellent work that the Dementia Centre is developing for carers of people with dementia.”
Professor June Andrews, the Director of the University’s Dementia Services Development Centre, said: “This project made a practical difference to so many people, so we’re delighted at it being recognised in these awards. We’re thrilled at Shirley’s success.”
She added: “In a way, things have come full circle for us. Fiona Phillips helped launch the University’s ‘10 Helpful Hints for Carers’ book in 2010. It lovely that she was presenting the Nurse of the Year Awards and Shirley was a recipient in one of the categories.”
Professor Andrews said the “Helpful Hints” book was distributed free to all the participants in the Centre’s Comic Relief-funded project.