Interview with the 2021 Winner of our Health & Social Care Bursary

After a year of cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we were so pleased to be able to host our Health & Social Care Bursary again, especially on its 30th anniversary! As always, we received a number of impressive applications and were amazed at the innovative ideas put forward. This year, Kelly Marquis, a paramedic frailty practitioner on secondment from the St John Emergency Ambulance Service to HSC, won first place and received the top prize of £2,500 to get her idea off the ground.

She proposed a ‘Cake & Consultation’ programme which would proactively reach out to the elderly population to identify problems with frailty in their infancy, before the patient requires emergency response or hospital admission. Patients would receive milestone birthday cards from the age of 70, from St John and HSC, inviting them to attend frailty practitioner assessments.

Photo by Chris George

Congratulations! How does it feel to be behind the winning project for this year's Bursary?

It feels fantastic to have been chosen as the winner for this year’s Bursary, especially given how new my role is within HSC. We are living in an ageing population, so to be able to launch this proactive project and provide comprehensive, holistic assessments to patients in the pre-hospital setting could precociously identify persons at high risk of negative outcomes, allowing for timely intervention of preventative countermeasures.

How will the Bursary help your project, Cake & Consultation, initially?

The bursary will allow for the design and production of birthday cards that will be sent out to patients on milestone birthdays. Within the birthday card will be an invitation to contact me for a free cake and a practitioner’s assessment. During the assessment, small items of equipment may be identified as beneficial to the patient, and the bursary will allow for the purchase of these when a patient is unable to afford them.

What are the next steps to bring Cake & Consultation to life?

The next steps to bringing the project to life is to have the card designed and printed. I am also currently working with a programme developer to create a system whereby patient’s milestone birthdays are flagged up to me to save time and resources going forward. Following this, I will be launching the project in January, and hoping to start seeing patients that take up the offer of a free assessment shortly afterwards. I am also going to be self-funding a secondary research project on which cakes are the best to take to my patients, so I will be sampling as many varieties of cakes as possible!

Where do you envisage your project will go in five or ten years down the line?

This is an ongoing project that is relatively cheap to run, meaning that multiple patients will benefit from the bursary money, contributing to a reduction in major health and social care needs. I’d like to think that via data collection we can prove that this project is beneficial to patients, and that it can continue to be supported for years to come.

What impact do you think your project will have on the community as a whole?

Research shows that if you act early, you can have the greatest impact on a patient’s ageing journey. This project will identify issues at an initial stage level, allowing for timely, cost effective intervention, address social isolation, and make our elderly community feel happy, cared for and respected. A proactive approach not only focusses on the patient in need but benefits the community as a whole as it is easier, and more cost effective to deal with problems in their infancy.

Without the bursary initiative from Insurance Corporation, many projects such as mine would not get off the ground, so I'd like to thank everyone involved for making this happen, and encouraging this collaborative project between HSC and St John.