Raluca's story

“An amputation need not be a failure, it can be a new beginning.”

Raluca is finishing her studies and will soon qualify as a nurse. She is studying MSc in Adult Nursing but it was only a few years ago that decided to change career,

“I had never thought about becoming a nurse” says Raluca “I didn’t know much about nursing and I was terrified of needles and blood! My first degree was in Finance and Banking, so very different from what I’m doing now.”

Raluca was working for a company providing care services in people’s homes. She was office-based and enjoyed making a difference to people’s lives but became increasingly interested in how she could do more to help. So she made the decision to become a nurse.

Whilst studying, Raluca and a fellow student Pedro set up a project called ‘Stumped’. The project aims to create a website where people affected by limb loss can access support and information to help them through the process of losing a limb.

“I was on my first nursing placement in a vascular surgery unit” remembers Raluca “and I saw a lot of people who were having amputations, with the majority of causes being diabetes rather than trauma, like an accident. This really shocked me as in many instances diabetes is preventable. I also became interested in what support these people got after their amputation. I saw them receive fantastic care whilst in hospital, but what next?”

Raluca and Pedro researched the help and advice available and found lots of support services and charities providing help for people affected by limb loss. So they decided to pull together all these contacts and create a website called ‘Stumped’, allowing patients and their families to quickly find the right help and support they are looking for. This ranges from limb care and prevention of major surgery, to pre-amputation, post-amputation and then adjusting to life after limb loss. The advice is not only for physical care but also mental health and financial support.

“What I have found through doing this project” says Raluca “is that sometimes an amputation can bring a new lease of life. Some people cannot walk before having a leg amputated but after the operation and with a prosthetic leg they are able to walk. An amputation need not be a failure, it can be a new beginning.”

‘Stumped’ is still work-in-progress as Raluca and Pedro are using the project for their final dissertations, but the hope is to finish the project soon.

Raluca was nominated for a Cavell Star Award for her work on ‘Stumped’ for going above and beyond for her patients and those who will benefit in years to come. Steve McNeice made the nomination after he supported Raluca as a ‘patient mentor’ as part of her Council of Deans of Health Student Leadership Course.

Steve suffered with Meningococcal Septicaemia resulting in the loss of both of his legs above the knee. The infection also caused muscle loss and scarring on his arms, loss of finger tips, extensive lung damage and also deafness. He spent 17 months in four different hospitals as an in-patient and 16 years later is still a service user accessing outpatient services to aid his lifelong rehabilitation, given his complex and ever changing needs. Steve’s involvement in the ‘Stumped’ project opened his eyes to the dedication Raluca has shown,

“As a patient with an array of life-long complex and changing conditions, I find it refreshing and reassuring to have witnessed first-hand that a student nurse is able to reach out far beyond her normal scope of practice whilst embracing new technologies to meet the needs of both current and future patients. I have found Raluca to be unflustered, very supportive and empathetic, who does not just listen but actually hears what is being said. In my experience such individuals who go ‘over and above’ what is expected need to be recognised, supported and encouraged as they are the leaders of tomorrow, although I believe that Raluca is already a leader today albeit without knowing it.”

Raluca was delighted to receive her Cavell Star Award from Steve,

“I was gobsmacked! It means a great deal to me, especially as I was nominated by Steve. I have a huge amount of respect for him and he has helped me so much with the ‘Stumped’ project. To be recognised for being there for your patients is an honour.

“I’m also really proud of my colleagues who have helped create the ‘Stumped’ project, Pedro and Misbah. I couldn’t have done any of it without them, especially Pedro, as we have worked on this whilst we’ve been studying and working on placements. The Cavell Star Award is for them too.”

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