As a member of the nursing team, your leadership is essential to bringing about improvments in nutrition and hydration. (1)
In the context of nutrition and hydration this means:
- executive nurses should make sure that nutritional care is prioritised at board level and that systems are in place to support this
- team leaders should make sure care is organised so that food and nutrition are prioritised and patients' needs are met
- all nurses should enable others to provide good nutritional care.
You can take different approaches to leadership depending on the context of care and the situation. High performing leaders recognise this and are adept at applying a range of strategies:
- remaining visible and accessible to the clinical team, patients and service users, for example by being approachable to visitors and enabling team members to ask questions
- working with the team in different ways, for example alongside junior colleagues in the provision of direct care.
- Enabling learning in and from practice or by undertaking a care plan review
- monitoring and evaluating standards of care provided by the clinical team, for example by enabling reflective review at staff handover or by bringing staff together to review clinical and workforce data using balanced score cards
- providing regular feedback to the clinical team on standards of nursing care they provide. This might be by providing feedback at the end of each interaction with staff members, the end of the shift or at staff handover
- creating a culture of learning and development that will sustain person-centred, safe and effective care. This could be by implementing systems for evaluating practice, clinical supervision, shared governance or decision making and a focus on patterns of behaviour, and providing a challenging and supportive environment for staff (2).
According to a Care Quality Commission report (3) on standards of dignity and nutrition in hospitals, leaders are crucial to setting the norms for conduct and reducing variability in practice. Within the hospital setting the leadership role of the ward sister or charge nurse is critical in providing this role and in establishing a culture of learning and development and an appropriate care environment (4, 5).