A local community nurse is among a group of 20 to have been awarded the title of Queen’s Nurse, marking the first time the honour has been made in Scotland for almost 50 years.
Michelle Duffy, from the Black Isle, was selected earlier this year to take part in a nine-month development programme run by the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS).
Each of the community nurses were nominated by their managers for providing high quality, compassionate care.
Michelle, an advanced practice respiratory nurse with NHS Highland based in Inverness, covers Caithness, Sutherland, Skye, Lochalsh and Lochaber, offering specialist nursing care and advice.
Most of the people on Michelle’s caseload are elderly and have conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, emphysema and bronchiectasis, which make it difficult to breathe.
Working closely with national charities, as well as community-based support groups, Michelle and her colleagues raise awareness of respiratory disease, and the importance of early diagnosis.
They take their spirometer, for measuring lung capacity, into supermarkets and shopping centres to offer on-the-spot tests, and use every opportunity to raise awareness.
Michelle said: "I’d encourage anyone who has the chance to take part in the QNIS programme. I can honestly say it’s been some of the most valuable development work I’ve done in my career.
"Community nursing is changing and has become more complex as we care for people closer to their homes. The learning from QNIS has enabled me to share the story of this with others to help them understand what we do.
"I’m lucky to be a part of a great respiratory team who share the same values. We try to understand the patient and family perspective and make sure that’s at the centre of all that we do.
"The creative focus of the QNIS programme has helped me to explore ways to help patients share their experience. The ethos of the programme was person-centred and I believe there’s nothing as valuable as hearing someone’s experience and it can encourage and give hope and help others to manage their condition better."
After completing the QNIS programme, Michelle has earned the right to use the Queen’s Nurse title which dates back to the late 19th century when nurses trained in Institute sites across the country until 1969.
The decision was made to reintroduce the title to Scotland in 2017 following the precedent set by sister organisation the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI), which represents the rest of the UK. A Scottish programme was then developed after extensive consultation with health and social care leaders.
Michelle was among 20 new Queen’s Nurses gaining the title to be presented with a certificate and badge by Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith during an awards ceremony in Edinburgh on December 1.
During the ceremony, an honorary fellowship was also presented to retired Queen’s Nurse Angela MacDonald, from the Black Isle in recognition of her "extraordinary commitment" to the wellbeing of the retired Queen’s Nurses who live in the Highlands.
Clare Cable, Chief Executive and Nurse Director of QNIS, said: "From the late 1880s, Queen’s Nurses were social reformers who were taking public health into people’s homes to help families take better care of themselves.
"The modern Queen’s Nurses are building on this proud heritage - sharing this pioneering spirit to improve the health and wellbeing of the communities of Scotland."