Building a healthy society: A tradition of service

Caroline Reed, Principal Maxillofacial Prosthetist, sitting at a bench and hand-paints a prosthetic eye.Caroline Reed, Principal Maxillofacial Prosthetist, hand-paints a prosthetic eye. Image courtesy of Guy’s and St Thomas’

[This article is from the Autumn/Winter 2018 issue of InTouch, your alumni magazine]

King’s staff and students have long dedicated themselves to the service of society. Nowhere is this more evident than in our contribution to the evolution of health services. Our history is punctuated with ground-breaking innovations that have emerged from Guy’s, King’s College and St Thomas’ Hospitals (GKT) and the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care.

We frequently grab headlines with cutting-edge research findings: research that goes on to make a difference to people’s lives. This sits at the heart of our work: the aim to make a positive impact on the lives of patients and carers alike. In this article we talk about King’s contribution to a number of vital areas of health care.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College Hospital have long been associated with radical new approaches to health challenges. One such challenge came with the outbreak of the First World War. It was both unexpected and overwhelming, yet Guy’s response to it continues to make a difference to lives today.

The events of the First World War brought with them unprecedented horrors. Injured men returned from the front in droves, many of them with devastating facial injuries. Sir William Kelsey Fry, who trained and lectured at Guy’s Dental School before the war began, collaborated with Sir Harold Gillies, a surgeon. Together they transformed the way facial and jaw injuries were treated. With their technical skill and inspired approach, Fry and Gillies pioneered principles and methods that provided the foundation for modern maxillofacial treatment. Never before had dentists and surgeons worked together in such a collaborative manner. Although UK hospitals no longer see the same volume of injuries due to conflict today, patients still benefit from the innovative methods introduced by Fry and Gillies. GKT’s contribution to the excellent advancement within this field continues to this day. The Guy’s Maxillofacial Unit treats patients from across London and is home to a renowned maxillofacial prosthetics unit that sees in excess of 200 people a year.

Headshot of Anne Marie Rafferty CBE
Professor Anne Marie Rafferty CBE

Building a healthier nation

Another healthcare first to come from GKT was the formalised training of nurses. Now known as the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care, the school has been training nurses since 1860. However, the face of modern medicine has evolved and with it the role of nurses. Anne Marie Rafferty CBE, Professor of Nursing Policy, who is currently standing for election as President of the Royal College of Nursing, reflects on this and what life is like for student nurses today.

In 1860 nursing was an apprenticeship, in which nurses learned on the job. St Thomas’ (as it was then) was the centrifugal force producing leaders, who in turn would train nurses not only throughout Ireland and the UK, but the Commonwealth too. In the early days training was very haphazard, “cobbled together” as one nurse leader commented. Today, students follow a systematised and highly choreographed curriculum of equal parts theory and practice to meet EU requirements for 4,600 hours of learning. These are divided between clinical placements, classroom teaching and simulation using technology-supported feedback, a growing area of interest and research. Students have mentors on their placements to facilitate and sign off their competence and link lecturers from the university to support and supervise students in practice. There is a tremendous emphasis on the quality of the student experience. We offer a 360-degree exposure to clinical care and many different forms of learning.

- Anne Marie Rafferty CBE, Professor of Nursing Policy

When Florence Nightingale first opened her training school for nurses it is unlikely she could have imagined how it would evolve. Today, the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care is home to 200 staff and 3,000 students. The faculty educates and inspires students, giving them the tools they need to impact the lives of those they care for. It also generates ground-breaking research that improves the experience of both patients and carers.

Foundations for future care

The Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care, Policy & Rehabilitation is the result of a partnership between King’s and the charity Cicely Saunders International. Opened in 2010, it is the first purpose-built institute of palliative care and home to some of the most exciting research in this area.

Headshot of Anna Bone, PhD Researcher
Anna Bone, PhD Researcher

Anna Bone is in the third year of her PhD. She is studying the impact of population ageing on the future impact of end-of-life care provision.

I worked at the Cicely Saunders Institute as a research assistant before embarking on my PhD so I knew that it would be a great place to study for a doctorate. I work with many inspiring academic and clinical colleagues, whose goal of improving care for people living with advanced illness and their families is at the centre of everything they do. There is an evident culture of learning and personal development in the Institute, with access to weekly meetings dedicated to methodological skills, critiquing the literature, and reviewing research proposals, which enriches the experience of studying for a PhD. My research interest is frail older people’s care towards the end of life. As part of my PhD, I studied the impact of population ageing on future end-of-life care provision. The study aimed to project where people will die from 2015 to 2040 across all care settings in England and Wales. We found that if recent trends continue, the number of deaths in care homes will double over the next 25 years and become the most common place to die. If the reduction of deaths in hospital is to be sustained, there is an urgent need to invest in community services and social care and expand the number of care home places, which are currently in decline. We hope that our analysis model will also be replicated in other nations, to inform policy and improve end-of-life care provision internationally.

- Anna Bone, PhD Researcher

A global perspective

Headshot of Mary Abboah-Offei, PhD Researcher
Mary Abboah-Offei, PhD Researcher

The Cicely Saunders Institute generates research findings that will impact the wider global community in a variety of ways. Mary Abboah-Offei is in the second year of her PhD, where she is developing a community model of care for people living with HIV or AIDS. She is currently conducting research in Ghana.

The aim of my study is to develop a person-centred community-based care programme to improve the quality of life for people living with HIV or AIDS. Person-centred and holistic care for people living with HIV or AIDS is a critical area set for fast-track action by the World Health Organization.

By implementing person-centred care in HIV treatment, it could improve the involvement of people living with HIV or AIDS in their own care through collaborative care planning, taking into consideration their preferences, needs and personal values.

- Mary Abboah-Offei, PhD Researcher

From pioneering prosthetics work and training nurses, to in-depth research that will inform national and global health policy, this work truly embodies King’s mission to ‘serve to shape and transform’. But our efforts are far from over and as we face further health challenges, it can be assured that GKT and King’s staff, students and alumni will be there to meet those challenges head-on.