Top tips from Tanis
Published: 02 May 2012
In each of our e-newsletters we are focusing on the Principles of Nursing Practice, as they are such a fundamental part of good nursing care. Whether you are a health care assistant (HCA) or an assistant practitioner (AP), and whether you work in acute care, mental health, the independent sector or indeed anywhere, the principles will apply to you and your colleagues.
The Principles make clear exactly what quality nursing care looks like. They were developed with patients and for patients. They can be used by nursing staff to reflect on their own practice and evaluate nursing care. They can also be shared with patients and their families or carers so they can give feedback on the care provided.
In this e-newsletter we take a look at Principle D:
Nurses and nursing staff provide and promote care that puts people at the centre, involves patients, service users, their families and their carers in decisions and helps them make informed choices about their treatment and care.
We all agree that we work in the nursing profession because we believe that we can give our patients and clients the best possible standards of care. Even when things get in the way we endeavour to do this, and we know this isn’t always easy.
There are many examples that demonstrate the importance of person-centred care, and an example which is very relevant to HCAs and APs is the process of delegation. Every time a registered nurse makes the decision to delegate a nursing intervention to an HCA or an AP, the first question they should ask is whether it is in the best interest of the patient. If there is any doubt about this whatsoever the delegation is not appropriate and should not be made.
Find out more about accountability and delegation on the RCN HCA and AP website.
I heard a lovely example of an HCA putting the patient in the centre of care recently. The patient was a man (we’ll call him Bob) who had an accident causing injuries so severe that he was to be hospitalised for many weeks. In his run down condition, he developed oral thrush, and with his furry tongue and sore mouth, found it very difficult to talk and swallow.
Then one day an HCA came into the ward and asked him if he would like her to get him an ice lolly. Alongside the medical treatment for the oral thrush, Bob had tried to relieve the pain and discomfort using mouth washes and gels but nothing relieved it – up until then. This was the most comforting thing he had experienced for all the weeks he had been an in-patient, and the relatively simple gesture was something he told me he would never forget.
In terms of value to Bob it outweighed all the complex interventions he had experienced over the previous weeks and was to him the most important and influential part of his recovery. His family were delighted to know what they could bring in that would really bring him relief from his discomfort, and his recovery soon went forward in leaps and bounds from then on. Remember – oral thrush is a condition that requires medical treatment and should always be reported to the registered nurse.
So person centred care doesn’t have to be complicated. It is about seeing the person inside the patient and responding to that person’s needs. It means talking with the patient and their families, and finding out what the real issues are – and very often they are as simple as Bob’s need for something soothing and cool, and the lolly that the HCA brought him totally fitted the bill. HCAs and APs are in exactly the right places to promote care that puts people in the centre.
Please consider how you use Principle D in your place of work, and encourage your colleagues to make the small changes that make big differences to people like Bob.