Addison’s Disease Day (29 May) is the highlight of the ADSHG calendar. A day for everyone around the world affected by Addison’s disease and adrenal insufficiency. One way to raise awareness on Addison's Disease Day is by setting up an awareness stand in hospitals or medical practices.

Joanne Brown, the Endocrine Clinical Nurse Specialist at Stockport NHS Hospital did exactly that. She set up an amazing stand to educate her colleagues on steroid dependent patients’ needs. We caught up with her to find out more.

Tell us about your background and role

I joined Stockport NHS Foundation Trust in March 2020. I am the first Endocrine Clinical Nurse Specialist at the hospital. My background includes advanced nurse practitioner roles in neurosurgery and critical care. I am also an independent non-medical prescriber.

Within my role I have weekly nurse led clinics and manage a weekly endocrine investigation unit where I complete dynamic function tests and other endocrine investigations for our patients. My role also involves supporting and teaching patients, relatives and members of staff within the hospital about the management of adrenal insufficiency.  As this is a new role there is a lot to develop, I therefore write and contribute to protocols, policies and service evaluations. I also sit on the Society for Endocrinology Nurse Committee and Early Steering Group Committee and have written for publications.  

Why did you get involved in the Addison’s Disease Awareness Day?

When I started this new role, I joined the ADSHG, as a way to improve my knowledge and be aware of what support was available to patients who had a diagnosis of Addison’s disease. I wanted this understanding in order to be able to signpost my patients to a support group. I look after and support many patients with primary and secondary adrenal insufficiency and was aware that the ADSHG promoted Addison’s Disease Awareness Day.

I was really keen to get involved with an awareness day, although during my first year of working within the Trust, COVID-19 prevented me from pursuing this idea. During this time I had also been involved with teaching staff and contacting patients following the National Patient Safety Alert released in August 2020. This involved the roll out of the new emergency steroid card to all our patients within the endocrine service who required one. This added to my thoughts of completing an awareness day.

In March 2022 I started to plan and put my ideas together for the awareness day. I attended the Society for Endocrinology Nurse Update in April 2022 and got to meet representatives from the ADSHG who kindly agreed to support my idea. As I work alone in my role, a colleague, Senior Medical Secretary Mandy Rix (pictured) offered her support and help, which was much appreciated. The idea was fully supported by the department management team too.

What was the main aim of the awareness stall?

The main aim of the stall was to raise awareness of Addison’s disease amongst staff within the hospital but also to take the opportunity to highlight other causes of adrenal insufficiency amongst different patient groups. The stall was set up near to the entrance of the staff restaurant, so was visited by many different staff members from a range of different specialities. Some patients and relatives who passed by stopped to ask questions and to take a look at the stall.

We took contact details from staff and I contacted each of them following the event. This was to signpost them to the online information, such as the ADSHG website or to set up teaching sessions within their departments. We used social media to promote the day, as did the communication team via the hospital social media. They also assisted with arranging access to the stall.

What were the highlights of the day?

There were many highlights of the day, firstly seeing the awareness stall set up after having thought about it for nearly two years.

"Experiencing staff showing interest about how to support patients with Addison’s disease or other forms of adrenal insufficiency was fantastic."

Following this event I have completed further teaching sessions to non-medical prescribers in the hospital, and within other departments and I continue to work with Pharmacist Kirsty Elliot with this. Staff within the hospital are more aware of my role and regularly contact me directly for support and advice. This all benefits patients and I hope improves safety and staff awareness when they are admitted within the hospital.

Can the awareness day be replicated in other hospitals?

"An awareness day can be completed in any hospital. The ADSHG provided brilliant support with literature to display on the stall and bunting to make the stall more eye-catching."

I appreciated the support my colleague Mandy had given me on the day too as the stall became busy with lots of interested staff. My advice would be to get some support from another member of staff to help with the day.

Thank you Joanne for raising awareness of Addison's disease and adrenal insufficiency!

Author: Joanne Brown. Endocrine Clinical Nurse Specialist, Stockport NHS Hospital.

Twitter: @EndocrineNurse

If you would like to set up an awareness stand in your hospital, download our information leaflet to learn more and how we can support you!

As a person living wih Addison's yourself, please share our leaflet and this blog article with your endocrine nurse of GP for inspiration!

If you're a healthcare professional and would like more resources for people with Addison's and adrenal insufficiency please visit our dedicated webpage here.

This article was first published in the Winter 2022 edition of the ADSHG magazine.

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