Organised by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), Gary Rutherford was presented with the award by Health Minister Robin Swann at a special ceremony held at the Culloden Hotel, Holywood, last night.
Gary was working in acute psychiatric admission wards and as an addiction nurse therapist in the Western Trust when he noticed a gap in community support services.
He initially set up ARC Fitness (Addiction Recovery Coaching) as a sign-posting service to help people to access appropriate help and support in community settings.
From the outset, demand was high and eventually Gary made the tough decision to give up his post within the Trust’s addiction service to focus on this work.
The community-based not-for-profit organisation employs two full-time staff, with a support team of 14, including mental health nurses, therapists, counsellors, personal trainers and peer recovery coaches.
Gary provides a holistic approach to care and ensures the service focuses on preventing further physical and emotional harm.
Yvonne McWhirter, who nominated Gary, said that, having experience of recovery himself, Gary has developed a “no shame” approach to address the stigma related to addiction.
Ms Mcwhirter describes Gary as “an inspirational nurse who continues to keep his focus and priority on high standards and quality of care using innovative and relevant delivery”.
Robin Swann said: “I congratulate Gary on this great achievement, winning Nurse of the Year 2022. Your commitment to caring and helping people recover from addiction is remarkable.
Rita Devlin, director of the RCN in Northern Ireland, said: “Through his innovative and caring approach to care, Gary has changed the lives of many for the better.
“Working throughout the pandemic, he has created a new service and a different approach to treating those struggling with substance misuse and addition.”
Runner-up on the evening was Lesley McKillen, from Ballyclare, home manager at MD Healthcare.
Lesley was nominated for developing a centre of excellence for residents with complex tracheostomy needs in a supportive care home environment.
This service is rarely provided in a care home because of the specialist clinical skills required for patients, who would otherwise need hospital care.Tags: