A team of nurses that has created a hearing check service for young people with autism or learning disabilities has been shortlisted for one of the profession’s top accolades.

The nursing team at Derwen College in Gobowen, has been selected from 920 entries as finalists in the Learning Disability Nursing category of the RCN Nursing Awards 2023.

The team will find out if it has won at a ceremony on Friday 10 November at Liverpool Cathedral. The overall RCN Nurse of the Year 2023, selected from all the category winners, will also be announced at the event.

Young people with learning disabilities or who are autistic do not always have access to regular hearing checks, prompting the Derwen College nursing team to join a pilot study on hearing checks in education. Working with an audiologist, an NHS intensive health outreach team and a GP, the team was provided with hearing test equipment and given training to offer three types of checks.

Out of 32 eligible students – none already under the care of ear, nose and throat specialists – 47% were identified as needing further intervention, including ear wax removal, ear infection treatment, or referral to specialists. Two students have now been advised a hearing aid would benefit them. All the cases where significant issues were present would not have been picked up before the checks done by the Derwen College nursing team.

College nursing team member Karen George said: ‘Undiagnosed ear pain and hearing troubles can lead to frustration and changes in behaviour, which can impact attendance, education and concentration during sessions, as well as relationships. To be recognised in these awards as a vital keystone to students’ health, well-being and learning is a wonderful thank you to us, but also to everyone that we collaborate with on a daily basis.’

RCN general secretary and chief executive Pat Cullen said: ‘Our inspiring finalists demonstrate the very best of nursing and what can be achieved in some of the challenging times for the profession.

‘They highlight the wide variety of ways nurses improve the care of people at all stages of life and how they demonstrate their professionalism and clinical excellence every day, and in every setting, throughout the UK.’

The Foundation of Nursing Studies is the award’s charity partner this year. Its chief executive and current chair of the judging panel Joanne Bosanquet MBE said: ‘The quality of entries this year was superb and it was near impossible to choose our finalists from the creative and innovative work submitted.

‘The shortlist showcases excellence and recognises the enormous difference that nurses make to people’s lives throughout the UK.’

The RCN Nursing Awards will this year be held alongside the inaugural Nursing Live, a new and dynamic event for everyone who works in nursing.  Hosted over two days (November 10th-11th) at the ACC complex in Liverpool, the event will focus on both the professional and personal development of nurses at every stage of their careers and will be the first event of its kind for the sector.