Throughout my training, I was continually asked by patients and families “who is who?”
Although identification badges are worn by staff, they’re not always visible and not knowing who they are speaking to is an anxiety patients can do without. They deserve to be fully aware of who is providing their care and who to speak to if they have concerns.
NMC guidelines state that consent needs to be gained before a procedure is undertaken, however there is little point in obtaining consent from a patient who does not know who they are giving consent to. Evidence has shown that the public have a more positive perception of professionalism when a standardised uniform is in place and efforts in Wales to comply with this have been successful. Patients are more comfortable when they understand who is delivering their healthcare.
I realised while on placement that this is something that can, and should, be improved. I proposed to do this by creating an easy-to-read poster to be placed next to each patient’s bed, that would illustrate who is who on the ward by matching pictures of the uniforms to the role of the person wearing it. The poster can be easily edited to different languages and the types of uniforms can be changed to match each individual ward.
To get my idea off the ground, I started by collating research articles to provide rationale for my proposed need for change, before creating a proto-type of the poster I intended to use. The poster itself can be created using a simple software programme with the agreement of the sister or ward manager and the costs are just printing and laminating.
It was a real confidence boost when my mentor and Southend-on-Sea University Hospital Trust took an interest in the idea. The matron on my placement, along with me link lecturer, took my idea to the trust for consideration. Being creative and reacting to a problem with a solution felt very empowering.
Inspired by the support I have received and keen to carry on making changes where I can, another student and I have decided to set up a student innovation society with the full backing of the university. This is a great way to get the message to other students that they can make a difference early on and are not just cruising through the course. It is an exciting time and I feel confident that innovation will be high on the agenda for all nurses of the future.
Colette O’Neill has just qualified from Anglia Ruskin university