John Gilligan Wins 2012 McHugh Award for Nurse Leadership

by Published On: Sep 21, 2012

John Gilligan is the winner of the 2012 McHugh Award for Nursing Leadership.

Gilligan has worked his way through the “ranks” of nursing, changing careers later in life from that of a mechanic to a certified nursing assistant (CNA), licensed practical nurse (LPN) to a registered nurse (R.N.), Board Certified in Geriatrics. 

Today, he is the clinical nurse manger in Sunshine Garden’s, a 60-bed memory impairment unit at Southampton Estates of ACTS-Retirement Life Communities. John was instrumental in the opening of the dementia unit and its first and only RN manager. 

John has been influential in creating positive changes at the organization and for the dementia unit. He was part of the committee that converted a storage room into a sensory stimulating environment used by the residents. John researched the effectiveness of the Snoezelen Room and tracked the decrease in psychotropic medications with residents who participated in the trial of the Snoezelen room. 


A Leader in Culture Change

John, in partnership with the dietary department, led the culture change program. He took a leadership role by providing the majority of training to all community departments and created new and innovative procedures to move the process forward. John instilled in his staff a positive attitude and unified direction, initiated Neighborhoods and led multiple learning circles to improve the dining experience. He also currently chairs the Culinary Committee.

An Advocate for Residents

John is an advocate for each and every resident under his care. He interacts with families and physicians to identify their needs, learns their likes and dislikes, and greets each resident during meal times. The CNAs on his unit say John “ensures that the residents are cared for with dignity and respect. Most of the residents know him by name and when he is not in the office they ask for him.”  

John is an active member of the Quality Assurance Committee and constantly looks for trends that can be improved upon. Through interventions he maintains a unit where there is minimal if any skin breakdown and his leadership has consistently resulted in zero DOH deficiencies. He also leads the psychotropic medication committee and works closely with physicians and staff to have an overall reduction of psychotropic medication usage in the memory impairment unit.

A Role Model

John is an excellent role model to his staff. John meets regularly with his staff and helps them work through their concerns to improve the quality of care and quality of life for all their residents. The CNAs describe John as “caring and respectful and he listens to our concerns.”  

John has been recognized for his outstanding contribution to Southampton and to his residents by being the Employee of the Month, Employee of the Year and subsequently received the President’s Award, which was recognition by the ACTS Corporation. 


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