Royal recognition for two nurses who have helped transform care in Cornwall

Royal recognition

Two women who have helped to transform care in Cornwall have been recognised with a royal invitation for people engaged in front line nursing.

Nikki Thomas, head of clinical quality at NHS Kernow, and Monika Payne, manager of Caritate Nursing Home, Bodmin, have been invited to a reception with HRH Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the amazing work of front line nurses.

The reception takes place tomorrow (Wednesday 14 March) as part of the NHS’s 70th birthday celebrations.

Nikki Thomas qualified as a nurse 27 years ago. She is known to everyone for always going the extra mile in everything that she does to put patients first.

Nikki was nominated by Natalie Jones, chief nursing officer for NHS Kernow.

She said: “When I found out that I had been nominated and invited to the reception I felt honoured, quite excited and then I thought ‘oh what I’m going to wear’?”

Asked about what has changed in nursing in the last three decades she added: “The fundamentals of nursing, which are to care for people, have not changed. I think technology and medicine has changed over that time but doing your best for patients will always remain the same.

“This is not just my recognition, this is about all the nurses that I have worked with and influenced over the years.”

Monika Payne, a registered mental health nurse, is also being recognised at the reception tomorrow.

Monika was nominated by Julieann Carter, head of nursing for NHS Kernow.

The 54 year-old rose up the ranks from staff nurse to manager of Caritate Nursing Home after Monika Peach who owned the care home with her husband Stuart, retired from nursing and manager due to ill health.

After several failed attempts by the couple to find the right person to take on the running of the care home the couple knew that Monika, a mother of two and grandmother of seven, was who they needed at the helm. 

Monika said: “I could see that things were crumbling and there were issues that needed to be dealt with but I wasn’t in a position to address them. I had been offered another job but didn’t want to leave.

“I said to Stuart and Monika if they put me on the relevant course [to be a manager] then I would run the place for them.”

Monika became deputy manager in November 2016 and the registered manager in July 2017.

But within weeks of taking on the new role she was faced with some major challenges.

“Both the Care Quality Commission and NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group had issues with us around safeguarding. It was a really turbulent time. In May 2017 we were ordered to suspend admissions to the care home as a result of several safeguarding alerts which had occurred during the gap between Monika taking a step back and my arrival.”

“We needed to make a clean sweep, it was tough and it was stressful but our number one priority has always been to deliver the best care to the residents and give them the quality of life they need and deserve.

“As a care home we worked with the CQC and NHS Kernow CCG to make the changes and we had several meetings and together devised action plans to ensure that the changes that needed to be made were made.”

Within months of her taking over the CQC changed its previous overall rating of the nursing home from ‘requires improvement’ to an overall rating of ‘good’.

Monika said: “When I was asked whether I minded being nominated it meant so much to have that recognition and then I put it out of my mind so when the invitation to go to Buckingham Palace came through I was speechless.

“In all fairness though I can’t take all the credit for the changes at the care home as much of it is down to the staff I work with and I wish I could take them all with me.

“If it wasn’t for them I don’t think we would have achieved what we have.”

Jackie Pendleton, NHS Kernow’s chief officer, said: “Congratulations to both Nikki and Monika. It is really wonderful to see them receive royal recognition for their dedication to front line nursing. I hope they both have an enjoyable day.”