It isn’t just clinical staff who receive recognition for the care they provide patients at Oswestry’s specialist orthopaedic hospital, as Jess Potts, Assistive Technologist, knows.

Jess works for a charity called Aspire and is based on the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries (MCSI) at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital. She has been shortlisted in the prestigious Unsung Hero Awards – which recognise the contributions of non-medical NHS staff and the work they do behind the scenes.

Jess is a shortlisted finalist in the IT and Digital Award (Individual) category, after being nominated by Kate Betts, Therapy Associate Practitioner on MCSI.

Jess’ role is around enabling, training, supporting and introducing patients to ways that they can access IT and Kate’s nomination praised her for ‘changing and enriching the lives of so many patients and staff.’

The nomination said: “Once patients are referred to Jess, she will meet with them and discuss their knowledge around IT, what equipment they have and their goals. Jess then will research the hardware, software and supportive equipment, if necessary, and create a plan to allow patients to start to regain independence and connect with their loved ones.

“Jess will link in with the wider Therapy Team if a patient is looking to be able to use a keyboard and/or mouse to come up with a plan of exercises and treatments.”

Aspire are a national charity who provide practical help in relation to accessible housing, independent living, assistive technology and welfare benefits advice to people living with a spinal cord injury.

In March 2023, they re-introduced their Assistive Technology service to help those with high-level spinal cord injuries be able to use their devices.

Kate added: “Some patients with a spinal cord injury will have little to no arm movement, and prior to Jess joining the team, the only way they could connect with their loved ones was through a member of staff holding a phone to their ear.

“You cannot underestimate the pure joy of watching a wife independently call her husband, for the first time in many weeks or months, or a parent successfully video call their family to join in with table conversations at breakfast of dinner time.”

Jess said: “I’ve been part of the MCSI Team for 12 months now and was initially attracted to the role due to living with a spinal condition myself.

“I aim to work one-to-one with patients, aiming to give them the independence and freedom to enjoy technology and use it for the activities that are important to them. Equipment used ranges from head tracking, voice control and ergonomic mice through sip-and-puff technology. Some patients will require continuous support, while others will only need a few advice sessions.

“Thank you to Kate for the nomination, and the wider team on MCSI for their support over the past 12 months – I feel honoured to have been shortlisted in these awards.”

Jess will find out if she’s the winner in the category at a glittering award ceremony on Friday 15 March at the Hilton Hotel in Deansgate, Manchester.

Pictured: Jess Potts, Assistive Technologist, with Kate Betts, Therapy Associate Practitioner.