LONDON - Ridel Francisco, a 44-year-old Filipino nurse at Lynde House in Richmond, was recently named Nurse of the Year at the 2018 Barchester Care Awards.
Francisco, who is a Unit Manager at the private care home, earned the prestigious national recognition from among 1,500 nominations across the UK, including nurses in the government’s National Health Service (NHS), private hospitals and care homes.
“Napakasaya ko. I’m proud of it, of my hard work in the UK,” said Francisco, who made UK his home for the last 13 years.
He added: “I’m very proud being a Filipino. Una sa UK, maraming Filipino nurses at nai-represent ko ang hard work at dedication ng mga Filipino, which is very known na mahuhusay na nurses sa UK at sa iba pang bansa.”
The awards committee requires that patients, families and colleagues nominate the candidate. Francisco was nominated by his former patient and Lynde House resident, 72-year-old Yvonne Hewett.
“He knows the technicalities of nursing and not just the technicalities but of dealing with patients, particularly here, where patients have many different needs and ailments,” said Hewett.
“That’s a huge recognition for the residents and families to say what they said about him--that he’s a great nurse: competent, caring. Caring is a natural thing. You can’t learn to care. You can learn the techniques and the skills but it’s an innate thing that you want to care for people and I think Ridel has that. That’s what makes him special,” said Alison McIntosh, general manager at the Lynde House, a reputable care home specializing in palliative and end of life care.
The Barchester Care Awards celebrates staff and volunteers who go the extra mile to care for residents and patients living in care homes and mental health hospitals.
Francisco did not just touch lives, he also made a lasting contribution to the company by introducing the administration of “rescue antibiotics” in the private Care Home facility, instead of taking the patients to the NHS, a policy that the private care home adopts to this day.
“Naka-save siya ng money sa NHS dahil instead na dalhin sa ospital, dito na lang namin sila ginagamot dahil sa chest infection, UTI,” said Francisco.
FROM ONION FARMING TO NURSING
Francisco is a proud son of onion farmers in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija. His hometown is dubbed as Philippines’ onion capital. His college education at the Good Samaritan College in Cabanatuan was funded by long hours of toiling the land to produce quality onions.
Growing up, he also helped his parents farm onions to meet the cost of his nursing education. They also planted palay or rice and vegetables during off-season farming of onions.
“Magsisibuyas kami. ‘Yun ang pangunahin naming hanapbuhay doon. I came from farming as well. Nagtatanim ako ng sibuyas, palay at nagsikap ang magulang ko na mapagtapos ako as a nurse,” he said.
Francisco graduated in 1996 and worked for the Department of Health in Cabanatuan. After 10 years with the DOH, the opportunity to work in the UK came and he embraced the challenge.
Francisco is a dedicated family man. He is a father of three, who also took on the responsibility of sending to university three of his four siblings. Two of them are now teachers and another sibling followed in his footsteps and became a nurse.
“Pangarap kong mag-abroad to help my brothers and sisters,” Francisco explained. He is grateful that his wife supported him and allowed him to help them.
Francisco dedicated the award to his family and country, the Philippines.
He also wants to inspire those who came from impoverished backgrounds to persevere and pursue their dreams.
“Ang kahirapan ay ‘di hadlang para maabot mo ang ganitong antas ng pamumuhay. Hindi rin lang matataas na paaralan ang magbibigay sa iyo ng tagumpay. Basta graduate ka at may pagsisisikap ka, may pangarap ka sa buhay, maaabot mo," he said.