Is this the most multicultural ward in Kent?

Kings D Staff with Deputy Chief Executive Liz Shutler
Kings D Staff with Deputy Chief Executive Liz Shutler

Published on 07 August 2019

A ward is staking a claim to be the most multicultural in Kent after welcoming staff from a total of 16 different countries.

Kings D ward at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford boasts a total of 37 staff from outside England – more than half the total workforce.

The multinational team was recognised in a recent assessment as part of East Kent Hospital Trust’s Achieving and Celebrating Excellence Recognition scheme, which resulted in a Gold level award for the ward.

The judging panel’s report said: “There is a really explicit commitment and valuing of people from all cultures and diversity and a clear celebration of this multicultural team as a strong resource.”

The assessment also praised the ‘multiple compliments and positive feedback’ from patients and carers.

Ward Manager Selena Moore said the team dynamic was valued by staff and patients alike.

She said: “We welcomed our first overseas nurses about 15 years ago and they have stayed with me.

“Since then the numbers have grown and it just works. As long as someone has the right knowledge and skills, performs well at interview and has enthusiasm, then their ethnicity, nationality, culture, sexuality or anything else doesn’t matter.

“We have ended up with the most fabulously friendly ward and we all support each other.”

The countries represented on Kings D ward are: Australia, Croatia, England, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Latvia, Lithuania, Nepal, the Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Trinidad and Tobago, and Zimbabwe.

It can lead to some friendly banter during international sporting competitions such as the football or cricket world cup, but otherwise the focus is on working together and sharing experiences.

Selena said: “People often bring food to share at break times and we socialise outside of work at the different festivals and events.

“If someone is feeling homesick or lonely we will all rally round – and when it snowed I brought in blankets for colleagues from warmer countries who were finding the temperatures a bit of a shock. Pastoral care is really important.

“I always tell them they put the English to shame – I can’t imagine going to another country to live, let alone nurse in a different language.”

Different cultures are represented at all levels, from housekeepers and HCAs to ward sisters, and the Trust is training some individuals so they can convert nursing qualifications from other countries.

In addition to their native languages, members of the ward team - including doctors - can also speak Spanish and Kuwaiti, meaning they can communicate with a wide range of patients.