Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Competencies must be integrated into care

  • Comment
The launch of 13 national continence competencies last month is a major achievement for nurses working in continence care (See Update, p64). The competencies, produced by a partnership between Skills for Health and the RCN, should kick-start radical improvements in the overall standard of continence care in the UK.

The competencies have implications for health professionals working in nursing homes, hospitals and primary care. However, like many such initiatives their implementation is not mandatory.

It is interesting that the two-year project to produce the competencies relied on support from industry, which funded a conference to launch them and series of roll-out workshops during 2008. Without this partnership it is unlikely that these competencies would reach the people who need to put them into practice.

Concerns were raised at the launch that while the competencies are intended for a multiprofessional audience they have been branded with the RCN logo. These are not exclusively nursing competencies and it is essential that they reach physiotherapists, occupational therapists, midwives, health visitors and doctors. All these professionals play essential roles in the promotion of continence and the management of continence problems. Their respective professional bodies must be involved in disseminating the competencies to ensure they reach their intended audience.

We are told that competencies can, among other things, improve patient safety, help with team-building, match competent staff to patient requirements, recognise what a post-holder does and help to target resources. When I think about competencies I think about efficiency and effectiveness which are essential in the safe delivery of care. However, competencies look at a function that an individual carries out, such as catheterisation. They do not address the way that function fits in the patient’s care plan or tell us the grade of staff required to do it. We need to be careful that, when we look at functions, we do not lose the overview of the patient.

The challenge to health professionals is to use the competencies but ensure we do not generate a task-based system with a host of healthcare workers carrying out specific tasks for the same patient. Fragmenting care in this way can lead to problems.

Competencies must be woven into and become an integral part of an existing philosophy of holistic care. Staff need to know how functions can be put together so that patients receive personalised care from people with clinical expertise who understand their needs. That is the challenge for continence services.

Eileen Shepherd, editor, Continence Journal

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs