Leading nurses have developed a test to identify whether a workplace is suffering from a culture problem akin to that which contributed to the care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.
The “cultural barometer” can be used in any healthcare setting by individuals, nursing teams or as part of a wider organisational review.
It has been developed by a group of six leading nursing figures that came together in 2011 to call for major improvements in the profession in response to a growing number of cases of poor care.
The group includes Sir Stephen Moss, former chair of Mid Staffordshire FT, crossbench peer Baroness Emerton, King’s College London professor of nursing Anne Marie Rafferty, and Dame Elizabeth Fradd, who led the government’s health visitor taskforce.
It also includes South Tees NHS Trust deputy chief executive and director of nursing Tricia Hart and Flo Panel-Coates, former chief nurse at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust and current director of nursing at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust.
The group has drawn on their own experiences and research into 50 organisations to develop a two-page questionnaire, which aims to probe the attitude, values and culture of an organisation.
Some of the question’s in the barometer ask if staff think senior managers have an understanding of how things “really are” and whether staff feel concerns are listened to.
Dame Elizabeth Fradd told Nursing Times the barometer was divided into sections exploring the resources, support and help available to staff to do their jobs, and their perceptions and emotions.
She said the group were convinced culture was a fundamental factor in delivering good patient care.
“The barometer is about emotions – that’s where culture comes from, what staff feel and their experiences of working in an organisation,” she said. “One thing that rarely gets attention is the culture of an organisation, we never get under the skin of an organisation.”
The National Nursing Research Unit at King’s College London will be piloting the barometer in an acute trust and a mental health trust over the next few months, with results expected in spring next year.
The group said the barometer had the support of NHS Commissioning Board’s chief nurse Jane Cummings and Viv Bennett, the Department of Health’s director of nursing.