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13th January 2016


Golden medalIts that time of year again when seemingly large numbers of people are being honoured for their activities. What’s in an honour anyway?

Apologies to those of you who anticipated a blog post about large percussion instruments, perhaps another day. This week I have been congratulating people on being awarded honours in the New Year list. One colleague is now an OBE so I was practicing my curtsey in preparation for seeing him. Another colleague was honoured last year. Both of these people were deserving recipients having given considerable service in the field of health and education.

For most of us, the chance of attending Buck House and leaving with a medal is remote to say the least, even if we do feel that our commitment to what we do should be rewarded in ways other than the pay packet. Doing the day job and some, going the extra mile, these things are so common in the world of care and health that they tend to be expected rather than exceptional. It’s as though being a caring professional means you also are a little bit saintly.

Everyday Heroes

We all recognise greatness and dedication in those we work alongside, both those who attain formal recognition and those who labour quietly for little acknowledgement. I think everyone knows a hero in the workplace.

If you are a manager you may be guilty of overlooking the everyday dedication of the people in your team, as it becomes the norm. I know that I have some very committed staff and frequently find them working outside the required hours to fundraise, fix things, drive the minibus, enable an event or outing….. I don’t see as many claims for overtime.

It’s easy to be tokenistic in the awarding of special mention or recognition to staff members. I have experienced almost cringeworthy situations where management starts awarding certificates or giving them three cheers in handover. People don’t do these things to be popular; they do them because it feels good to do good. If you are moved to express your thanks, then often a private acknowledgement goes a long way; a card or a note, or a commendation in supervision.

Some appraisal frameworks do recognise the commitment of staff over and above the day job and this can be an option to recognise positive behaviour and attitude by promotion or pay rise. In order to do this, you would have to be very explicit about what constitutes ‘the extra mile’ though, as it could be deemed highly subjective!

It means something to someone

When you work with people with learning disability , there are often few incidences of outright gratitude from a service user. It’s simply not evident to them that the person helping  is going above and beyond. Often there is no language to tell you thanks. You have to observe the appreciation in the way your activities impact on their wellbeing or happiness.

Getting recognised for being amazing is wonderful, whether its by meeting Her Majesty, grinning for the local paper, getting a pat on the back from your manager or a wave and a smile from a client. Be content with the latter while you wait for the former…… as my cheeky colleague said, “don’t buy a hat just yet!”

If you do want to commend a colleague – its worth knowing that the Royal College of Nursing have called for entries for the Learning Disability Nurse Award (first time our profession has been included separately) go to to enter someone you think is a contender!

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Ginny Tyler

Learning Disabilities Specialist

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