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How can community nurses work more closely with hospital staff?

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I am a district nurse and I feel that if I could work more closely with hospital staff it would benefit both patients and my career. How should I go about this?

You are correct in the assumption that if hospital and community staff work closely together, patient care will be enhanced.

The first thing you should consider is putting together some real examples of where you think patient care could have been improved, using real situations that have occurred in the past few months. These will be fresh in people’s minds and can be used to strengthen your arguments. Next, outline what could have been done better and how working more closely
with the hospital team would have improved patient care.

You should also consider gaining an ally in the hospital setting. Is there a particular ward or directorate that you receive patients from more than others? Do you know a ward or directorate-based nurse who is like-minded? Working with a hospital-based colleague in this way can make things much easier.

When you have put together your arguments, communicate these to your colleagues at a team meeting and suggest ways in which you may be able to work more closely together. It might involve a ‘job swap’ for a short period when staff from both the community and hospital can learn what happens in different clinical situations. It might be possible for staff to attend team meetings across the clinical boundaries.

ou could consider making use of appropriate specialist nurses who are based either in the hospital or the community. These nurses often have cross-boundary responsibilities and can be a useful source of help in these situations. A further option, particularly if you can persuade your manager of the benefits of closer collaboration, is to suggest that she or he contacts an appropriate manager within the hospital to discuss possible ways forward.

There are a number of actions you can take. By initiating these with the help of your colleagues and manager, patient care can be enhanced and any credit earned by you in the process should be reflected in your CV.

Chris Pearce, formerly a director of nursing, is a life coach with lifegoalspecialists.co.uk

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