Hi, my name is Ruth Harrison and I am a proud learning disability nurse. I chose to be in this career because I had a brother with an intellectual disability. I have had the opportunity over my many years working in learning disability services to meet some passionate people who were motivated and keen to support me in my roles.
18 months ago, I started work with an amazing sepsis nurse called Paula Evans. We started out simply to make a leaflet that could be accessible for people, on looking after themselves following an infection. This was created in collaboration with our local day services, who were then keen to work with us more. We then created a series of videos for YouTube on looking out for the signs of sepsis.
We had a desire to create a further video on the softer signs of deterioration that may be missed in a person with a learning disability and/or autism. In collaboration with Vision West Notts College this film was edited and directed by their students. This can also be found on YouTube and in the 2019 LeDer report. It is here we met another dedicated individual by the name of Julie Hough, an employability and work placement officer.
After the creation of this video we all became firm friends. Julie messaged me one Saturday evening with this amazing idea, bears with information on the signs of sepsis that could be passed from one person to another. These became known as the Sepsis Aware Bears.
Between us we purchased 30 bears. The tags were created and all given unique names. Social media pages were created for them and the aim was to distribute them on the 13th September, as this is world sepsis day.
In order to get a feel of their success we let a few go early and the idea went 'viral'........ the very first bear given out was called Mottled Myrtle and she went to Helen Laverty, one of my tutors at university.
Helen put us in touch with Amanda from IT Matters in order to make the labels more accessible for people. Amanda has helped create a Makaton version and currently 10 of these are about to make it into the big wide world. One of the original bears is now currently in Canada.
It is amazing how one little project to support people with learning disabilities has gone on to create not only awareness videos and bears, but long lasting friendships. They have all seen a community coming together to help people spot the softer signs of deterioration, the signs of sepsis and give confidence to ask "could this be sepsis"
Sepsis is a condition where the body's response to an infection causes damage to the tissues and organs. Sepsis can only be caused such as a chest infection, urine infection or infected cuts and wounds. The early stages of sepsis can be similar to flu. The earlier a person can access appropriate healthcare, the better the chance of an improved outcome.
Want more information about sepsis? Get our free Sepsis information download, written in Makaton symbols.