Staff at St Joseph's Hospital, Stranorlar, Dementia Unit, Win Awards for Project to Increase Person-centredness 

29th May 2019 

The staff at St Joseph's Hospital, Stranorlar, Dementia unit (Woodville) recently won overall first prize for their project entitled "Everyday Language Counts" at the annual All Ireland Gerontological Nursing Association (AIGNA) conference in Limerick on 2nd of May. 

The project was also highly commended at the Northwest Nursing & Midwifery Research Conference Awards held in May 2019.  It won the award for the project  "Rooted in evidence & steering the future". 

All staff in Woodville are involved in this project. They are part of a Donegal Person-centred Culture Practice Development Project which is a collaborative project between the team in Woodville Unit, Services for Older People In Donegal, Nursing and Midwifery Planning and Development Unit and Centre for Person-centred practice research in Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.  The overarching purpose of this project is to enhance care delivery thus make the Dementia unit (Woodville) more person-centred. 

According to Sandra Gillespie, "Our project is about becoming more person-centred and in turn improving the experience of all who come into contact with our ward and our staff. We want our ward to be friendly, open, homely, inviting and an altogether positive environment for the individual who resides with us and we also wish the staff to enjoy working in the same environment. Because of our project, the staff continually reflect and evaluate our own working practices striving to achieve the aforementioned person-centred approach." 

She explained "Through a series of observations carried out in the ward by staff it was highlighted that language was something the staff wanted to address. How we speak to each other? How we speak to the people we care for? How we speak to relatives and members of the general public? We no longer use pet names like darling or love, all people in our ward are referred to by their given name. Our name is something we have from birth and this embeds our identity, we will respond to our name when perhaps we can no longer communicate effectively. We no longer identify the staff as Clinical Nurse Manager (CNM), Health Care Assistant ( HCA) Multitask Attendant (MTA )or  Domestic etc. We are all equal and no longer feel that their is a hierarchical element to our ward. Our notices and posters in the ward reflect this change in language. People are invited to visit our ward, we do not dictate visiting times, we try not to use medical terms when talking about our clients, they are not referred to by their illness or by a disease.   For example, people have diabetes they are not the diabetic. This has been a very positive outcome on the ward and it benefits all. It is not the only change we have made but it is a very important and powerful one." 

As one of our staff members Rina Commented "Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is a success" 


Media Queries to: 
Amanda Murray 
HSE Communications Lead CHO 1 
Community Healthcare Organisation Area 1 (Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Sligo) 
Tel: 071 98 34641 Mob: 087 9050777  

Last updated on: 29 / 05 / 2019