The use of storytelling by nursing staff is becoming an important tool for understanding patient care, a new study by the NHS has concluded.
Stories told by nurses, as well as those told by patients, are playing an increasing role in providing a holistic view of care experiences, according to findings published earlier this month by a regional division of NHS England.
The study looked at how storytelling is used by nearly 40 NHS organisations in the Midlands and East of England and whether it has progressed since a similar programme in 2011.
“We want to use the experiences from patients, carers and healthcare professionals to understand the patient experience”
It found that a wide variety of stories were being used for a range of purposes and the most powerful mode of delivery was by the patient or carer themselves.
However, none of the organisations taking part in the study had a structured process in place to support those hearing the story and very few provided support to the storyteller themselves.
Those organisations that had systemised processes in place now used stories in a more strategic way for purposes such as pathway redesign, according to a report on the study – titled What’s the story? Storytelling within the NHS (Midlands and East).
Some trusts are now using a specific programme of work to identify the stories, the report added. However, the study cautioned that stories sourced through a complaints process “seemingly resulted in no tangible outcomes or impact at the board meeting”.
Lyn McIntyre, deputy nurse director of patient experience of NHS England (Midlands and East), said: “The launch of this report signals a new chapter for storytelling within the NHS – we know how important patient stories are to driving forward effective change for our patients.”
She added: “It isn’t enough to just capture personal accounts but we want to use the experiences from patients, carers and healthcare professionals to understand the patient experience and, ultimately, how patients are treated within our care.
“Patient experience will therefore underpin service change and commissioning going forward,” said Ms McIntyre.
The study report noted that a next phase of progress in the region may include the development of a Patient Story Toolkit.