National award for senior North Yorkshire nurse

Sarah Fiori.

A senior nurse who has helped deliver major improvements in adult social care across North Yorkshire has received a prestigious national award.

Sarah Fiori is the principal nurse and head of the quality team at North Yorkshire Council and was honoured with the Chief Nurse Adult Social Care Gold award.

Presented by Deborah Sturdy, the chief nurse for adult social care in England, the award recognises the outstanding contribution made by social care workers and nurses and their ‘skills, expertise and enduring compassion’.

Ms Fiori has held a variety of nursing posts in acute and community NHS settings and was previously a research sister for academic and commercial trials. She now works jointly with North Yorkshire Council and the NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board.

The council’s quality team provides quality oversight and support to the care sector and practical, hands-on support to care providers where needed.

As a result of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the service was expanded, before becoming an integrated team. This was initially on a pilot basis, with staff working alongside NHS colleagues. Ms Fiori has been head of quality during this period.

She was nominated by Michelle Carrington, North Yorkshire and York director of nursing and quality at the NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board. The nomination was supported by North Yorkshire Council’s assistant director of adult social care, Rachel Bowes.

Mrs Carrington said since Ms Fiori took up her role the NHS support given to care homes, domiciliary care and supported living was almost unrecognisable. This support enhances that which the council already provides.

“Her approach of inclusion and engagement with the sector has led to strong and trusting relationships with providers who have embraced all that is on offer,” she said.

“This includes a comprehensive range of patient safety training to establish a bedrock of safer care culture and a suite of supportive, effective training to ensure resilient homes, confident staff and residents protected from harm.

“It is rare to come across an individual who has innovated and improved quality in such a short time and in equal collaboration with partners, residents and staff.”

Among the innovations Ms Fiori has helped implement are:

  • The award-winning Softer Signs tool which helps identify early indications of physical deterioration.
  • The Hydration Project, which has reduced incidents of urinary infections, cutting the number of hospital admissions.
  • The Summer Olympics where care home providers and residents take part in sporting events to promote healthy living.

She was also praised for the sensitive way she helped handle the closure of a care home during the pandemic. Her work to retain relationships and collaborate effectively with all involved was an example for others to follow, it was noted.

Ms Fiori said she was “surprised but thrilled” to receive the award.

“It is a privilege to be able to work with staff and those in receipt of care across a diverse range of settings and to know I play a part in supporting positive experiences for some of the most vulnerable individuals within our communities,” she said.

“Working in social care as a nurse or care professional provides the opportunity to really use all our nursing skills. It is a rewarding career I would recommend to anyone.”

Mrs Bowes said: “The work Sarah has been an integral part of is a great example of hands-on practical support to care providers and people who use their services.

“Integration is often talked about and this is a tangible example of how working together makes a real difference for the people of North Yorkshire. This award from the chief nurse for social care is very well deserved.”

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for health and adult services, Cllr Michael Harrison, said: “Sarah is constantly looking for ways to improve the service for those who deliver it and she should be very proud of what she has achieved.

“The award is also a recognition of the work the wider team has done and continues to do to improve the lives of the people we care for across North Yorkshire.”

The team is also in the running for two more honours, having been shortlisted twice in the Nursing In Social Care category of the 2023 Nursing Times Awards.