Northampton student inspired by care received when her son died nominated for nursing award

Lauretta Ofulue joined a nursing course at the University of Northampton in the hope she could give something back

By Carly Odell
Monday, 17th February 2020, 6:30 pm

A woman who was inspired by the care her son received when he was ill in hospital has been nominated for a nursing award.

Lauretta Ofulue’s son, Otito, was just four when he died in February 2017 after spending a year in Great Ormond Street Hospital.

He suffered with severe autism and was non-verbal so it was difficult for health staff to know when he was in pain.

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A University of Northampton learning disability nursing student has been nominate for a national award.

But Lauretta, who was an economist at the time, was so grateful for one of the nurses who helped Otito ‘be a boy again’ that she applied for a disability nursing course so she could give something back.

Lauretta said: “All the nurses were fantastic and we met a learning disability nurse there who was able to assess the pain Otito was in and he was able to be a boy again and play around the ward.

“If we did not have that special nurse he would have been in pain most of the time and that would have been horrendous.

“While I was at GOSH I set up a website to support those who have children in hospital.

Otito died when he was just four.

“When I left, that is what I wanted to do. I was doing it in hospital and I wanted to do it professionally but I knew I didn’t have the skills.

“I wanted to be able to support families who have children who have complex needs.”

Just a few months after Otito died, Lauretta started her learning disability nursing course at the University of Northampton.

Lauretta added: “I came onto the course even though I was grieving. It was a good way to carry on giving back.

“The university helped me to see the bigger picture and showed me I could support a diverse range of people of different cultures and even ages and that I could bring in my experience. My experience isn’t a barrier for me.”

Since starting the course in 2017, Lauretta has become an advocate for her course as well as supporting fellow mature students and promoting the university.

The student nurse has made such an impact on her peers and tutors that she has now been nominated for disability nursing student nurse of the year at the Student Nursing Times awards 2020.

She said: “Truth be told, it took me by surprise that I was nominated.

“Someone, somewhere must have nominated me because of all the things I do.

“I was just carrying on doing what I knew how to do.

“I feel so humbled to have been nominated.”

Lauretta says if she wins the award it would be a full credit to the university and her peers.

“I feel the university took a big risk on me. I was completely honest with them in the interview,” Lauretta added.

“I was able to take that change and University of Northampton has been supportive psychological and emotional, which is the reason why I was able to support my classmates.

“My experience could have gotten the better of me, but I am now coming out the other side smiling. It could have gone very wrong.”

University of Northampton's mental health first aid team, who have been rolling out ‘first aid for the mind training’ since 2017 has also been nominated for an award - teaching innovation of the year.

The winners of both the awards will be announced on April 24.