International Network of Spinal Cord Injury Nurses
965. Fiona Stephenson
Fiona Stephenson, from Dorset, is a spinal cord injury nurse who has volunteered around the world to embed her specialist skills amongst the medical community and patients alike.
She worked in Haiti and Nepal following the earthquakes and is co-founder of the ‘International Network of Spinal Cord Injury Nurses’. As part of a project funded by disability charity ‘Motivation’ and the ‘British Asian Trust’, Fiona has trained nurses and support staff from across Sri Lanka, sharing practical skills and specialist knowledge where there had been no formal training in dealing with spinal cord injury. Her work with patients themselves has included sessions on managing bladder and bowel, positioning and posture, preventing pressure sores as well as therapy and peer training. As a result of Fiona’s work two local training colleges are now integrating spinal cord injury nursing into their rehabilitation schemes and a group of Sri Lankan nurses have set up the ‘Northern Spinal Cord Injuries Nurse Association’, creating a network of specialists who continue to share knowledge and best practice. Fiona was awarded an RCN Fellowship in 2016.
Fiona is one of six volunteers specially recognised to coincide with the Global Disability Summit, co-hosted by the UK’s Department for International Development with the International Disability Alliance and the Government of Kenya and taking place on the 24 July at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. The summit brought together leaders from the private sector, governments, donor agencies and charities to raise awareness and show a commitment to transform the lives of people with disabilities.
As part of the build-up to the summit, Fiona was invited to a roundtable hosted at the Department for International Development by Lord Bates, Minister of State for International Development, where she was also presented with her award.
In a personal letter to Fiona, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“The training you have provided around the world is supporting nurses and other medics to acquire the specialist skills needed to care for patients with spinal cord injuries. Your work is inspiring professionals to integrate spinal cord nursing into training and transforming the lives of patients.”
“I am absolutely thrilled to receive this award and could not have achieved this without the support of so many people. I am very lucky to have been trained in the UK as a nurse and I feel it is my duty to share my knowledge with my colleagues in low and middle income countries who strive to enhance the care of their patients.”