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Behind the Rituals

Why do you do the things you do? How much of nursing practice is based on ritual and myth and how much on sound evidence? If you have a ritual you’d like to discuss here, email

All posts by Eileen Shepherd

Are you comfortable talking to patients about sex issues?

Posted by Eileen ShepherdMon, 30 Jun 2014

More than one million people in the UK may have stopped having sex altogether as a result of a heart condition.

Why do we wash patients in the morning?

Posted by Eileen ShepherdMon, 23 Jun 2014

I was at Nottingham University Hospital Research conference last week and listened to an interesting paper about washing sedated patients on intensive care units at night (between 9pm and 11pm). The aim is to reduce the interruptions that occur when someone is being washed during the day. The team are in the process of evaluating the change.

Are healthcare professionals afraid to discuss spiritual needs with patients?

Posted by Eileen ShepherdMon, 16 Jun 2014

Last week our #SNTtwitchat highlighted some anxieties about raising spiritual issues with patients and what we mean by spiritual needs.

Do 12 hour shifts increase agency use?

Posted by Eileen ShepherdMon, 9 Jun 2014

Last week, #nttwitchat discussed a national initiative aimed at ensuring agency nurses are high quality and up to the job. One nurse commented that 12 hour shift were inflexible and resulted in more agency staff being ...

Does your organisation have a replacement for the Liverpool Care Pathway?

Posted by Eileen ShepherdMon, 2 Jun 2014

A recent news story in Nursing Times highlighted the views of the ethicist Dr Anthony Wrigley who suggested that axing the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) was “too extreme”. He said scrapping the measure on the basis of some poor use was like prohibiting the use of morphine.

Do nurses in your area lack numeracy skills?

Posted by Eileen ShepherdMon, 26 May 2014

Last week we reported claims that some nurses are not able to pass numeracy and literacy tests as part of the recruitment processes.

How do you protect the supernumerary status of students?

Posted by Eileen ShepherdMon, 12 May 2014

An article published this week in Nursing Times suggests patients and student nurses can be put at risk if students’ supernumerary status is not protected. The authors suggest that supernumerary status is poorly defined, and if it is not upheld there is a risk that students may provide unsupervised ...

Does your ward have policies for drawing up the roster?

Posted by Eileen ShepherdMon, 5 May 2014

A UK nursing study has suggested that there is a need for clear policies on rostering that define staff levels, skill mix and shift patterns. It found that rosters were “highly politicised” and rule governing how nursing staff were scheduled were  “undocumented, tacit and informal”.What ...

Should nurses self-test equipment before using it?

Posted by Eileen ShepherdMon, 28 Apr 2014

Involving patients in decision making requires expert knowledge and an understanding of patients’ perspectives. This week we report the results of a small study that aimed to assess the impact of self-testing on catheter evaluation by continence nurses. The authors found that almost ...

Can patients be accurately assessed using Skype and email?

Posted by Eileen ShepherdMon, 21 Apr 2014

Last week David Cameron said more than 7.5 million people will be offered increased access to GP services through extended opening times and new consultation methods using video-phone services, email and phone. But can Skype and email replace face-to-face contact?

Should we have a standard prescription chart across the NHS?

Posted by Eileen ShepherdMon, 14 Apr 2014

A trial in Scotland is working on developing a new standardised prescribing and administration chart to cut out errors in prescribing wrong doses or the wrong drug by clinical staff.

Do we give enough positive feedback to people we work with?

Posted by Eileen ShepherdMon, 7 Apr 2014

This question was posed by Natalie Silvey @silv24 on Twitter last weekend and it caught my eye:

Do we underestimate the dangers of infectious childhood diseases?

Posted by Eileen ShepherdMon, 31 Mar 2014

A recent article published in Nursing Times explored a case study of a children with chicken pox and no rash. Chickenpox is usually self-limiting, but complications can occur. In healthy children these include secondary bacterial infections of the chickenpox lesions, otitis ...

How can you prevent patients losing dentures in hospital?

Posted by Eileen ShepherdMon, 3 Mar 2014

One day a ward sister asked a student nurse to clean all the patients’ dentures. The student got a bowl, collected the dentures and cleaned them. The rest of the shift was spent trying to find which dentures belonged to which patients.

What would prevent a nurse from talking to patients about FGM?

Posted by Eileen ShepherdMon, 17 Feb 2014

The government has announced that NHS hospitals will have to submit data on the number of girls and women who have suffered female genital mutilation (FGM).

Should nurses have indemnity insurance?

Posted by Eileen ShepherdMon, 10 Feb 2014

Members of the Royal College of Nursing who work for the NHS, private sector or independently in aesthetics will no longer be covered by the union’s indemnity scheme from July. The RCN described the change as “small” and said it was in order to close a loophole that allowed employers to shift the costs of cover onto the college.

What activities do older people want in care homes?

Posted by Eileen ShepherdMon, 3 Feb 2014

Last week we reported that residents at a Gloucestershire care home can now enjoy a game of darts or their favourite drink, thanks to the introduction of a pop-up pub.

How does shift work affect your health?

Posted by Eileen ShepherdMon, 27 Jan 2014

Recent research undertaken in the UK has suggested working night shifts plays havoc with many of the body’s genes.