“During my nursing training I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease – and this is what gave me the ambition to become an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) nurse. I never let it hold me back. Ever since my work experience in a nursing home I wanted to become a nurse, so despite my diagnosis and needing to have surgery in the middle of my nursing training, I didn’t drop back. I feel really proud to have now been awarded a place on the Crohn's & Colitis UK Nurse Specialist Programme.”
Lisa Critchley is one of just a handful of nurses around the country to have gained a place on the 2021 Crohn's & Colitis UK Nurse Specialist Programme. The 29-year-old IBD Nurse Specialist from Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is now hoping to further inspire and support others living with Crohn’s and Colitis, in the same way her IBD nurse inspired her, by advancing her development on the exclusive programme.
Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Crohn’s causes inflammation of the digestive system, and Colitis causes inflammation and ulceration of the inner lining of the colon and rectum. As chronic conditions they are ongoing and life-long, although patients may have periods of good health, as well as times when symptoms are more active, experiencing relapses or flare-ups.
“I was 18-years-old when I was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s, three years after I started developing symptoms. Having the condition has helped me when working with my patients. I know the way they are feeling and how bad it can be. To me, it’s personal and I really want to help them get better. Gaining a place on this programme means I’ve been given the funding to be able to start my masters in advance nursing practice at Edge Hill University – which is a massive opportunity for me to be the best I can be for my patients.”
Lisa, who lives in West Derby, has already had a huge impact on supporting those transitioning with Gastrointestinal (GI) conditions from paediatric to adult care, by helping to create the North West’s only Gastroenterology transition clinic under the mentorship of Dr Phillip Smith, Consultant Gastroenterologist at the Trust’s Royal Liverpool University Hospital.
“The service helps young people aged 15 to 21 to transition to adult services. As well as reviewing their condition, psychological support and education about the disease, we help them to adjust to adult life with a GI condition, such as managing their appointments themselves or ordering medication from the pharmacy. By using my past experience as a young adult with Crohn’s, I can pick up on certain things and spot if they are struggling.
“Little tweaks such as support letters if they are struggling with schoolwork because of their symptoms can make a big difference. The rapport we have with patients and their families is great and we’ve had some really positive outcomes that have helped to avoid hospital admission. It makes me really proud.”
Dr Philip Smith said: “Lisa has been crucial in developing and growing the new Gastrointestinal (GI) transition service between Liverpool University Hospitals and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. It has been described as an exemplary service for young adults and their families, and Lisa has received multiple compliments and letters from patients and senior colleagues at the Trust.
“She is a fantastic IBD nurse and is the personification of all the Trust’s values, as she is caring, fair and innovative. I am very proud of her for achieving a place on the Crohn's & Colitis UK Nurse Specialist Programme, where she will develop her already superb skills and be a leading light in the IBD nursing world, improving IBD care for her patients.”
Isobel Mason, IBD Nursing Development Manager at Crohn's & Colitis UK, said: “Crohn’s & Colitis UK are delighted to welcome Lisa into our nursing programme, making her a Crohn’s & Colitis UK Nurse Specialist. The programme supports IBD nurse specialists to develop professionally and work within our charity’s community to ensure patients receive the best possible care.
“We were so impressed with Lisa’s care, ambition and commitment to those living with Crohn’s and Colitis. She will make a fantastic member of our national nursing community.”