Renal nurse wins award for excellence in her mentor’s name

A Swansea Bay nurse has received an award named after the woman and friend who mentored her throughout much of her career.

Above: Melanie Jones being presented with her award by Sarah McMillan, Lead Nurse for the Welsh Kidney Network.
Melanie Jones was thrilled to receive the 2023 Liz Baker Excellence in Renal Nursing Award, and was presented with it just months before she is due to take her well-earned retirement.

The award was established by Liz Baker’s family in collaboration with the Welsh Renal Clinical Network to honour the memory of Liz, who was Morriston Hospital’s former renal services lead nurse, but who sadly died in 2017.

However there can be few more poignant winners than Melanie Jones as she credits her whole career to Liz Baker, having been taken under her wing as a fledgling nurse in the 1992.

On receiving the award Melanie, who is due to retire in March, admitted renal nursing wasn’t even her first choice of careers.

She said: “I never wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to join the police force but I was too short, so went into nursing instead.

“I only planned on staying a couple of years. I wanted to gain some general experience before moving into midwifery. But instead I stayed in renal.”

Melanie, who is now the ward manager for Morriston Hospital’s dialysis unit, said that fact was down to Liz Baker.

Melanie explained: “Each time I thought it was time to move on – and it was only a couple of times – Liz would take me in the office and have a chat with me saying she didn’t want me to go, that I had a lot more to give in renal, and that I was a very valued member of staff.

“That meant a lot to me. It helped my self-esteem, because I’m a very shy person.

“So I decided to stay and after a couple of years, renal got under my skin.

“I don’t have one regret. I’ve never had a day of regret working here.

“I have an amazing team working alongside me. I am so fortunate to have such a fantastic team with me.”

The award, set in Welsh slate, is presented annually to recognise outstanding achievement in renal nursing care.

Melanie said: “Liz taught me everything I know.

“And this award means so much to me. I’m retiring next year and this, to me, is one of the highest accolades you could have. Not only was she a work colleague, Liz was a friend, and I miss her every day.

“Her photograph is on the wall in the unit and every day, when I pass, I say good morning to her.

“I wish that she was here today, but she’s not she can’t be. I’m sure that she is here in spirit.

“I want to thank everybody that I work with because without any of them there wouldn’t be a department. Also my family who have supported me through this amazing journey.”

Pictured above, the late Liz Baker

Above: Melanie and the renal team.

Sarah McMillan, Lead Nurse for the Welsh Kidney Network, said: “Melanie had multiple nominations all highlighting her humility, professionalism, hard work, compassion and her dedication to renal nursing.

“She was mentored by the name sake of our award, Liz Baker and many more renal nurses have excelled under her guidance.

“It was an honour to have been able to present this award to Mel on behalf of the Welsh Kidney Network and the renal community which hold her in such high esteem.”

A colleague of Melanie, renal matron Lisa Morris, said: “I think this award is very well deserved.

“I’ve known Melanie for six and a half years. I’ve always admired her. She’s fantastic with the team, and has been supportive to myself in all different roles throughout my time in renal.”

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