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Exclusive: E-bikes changing the 'perception' of community nursing at Dorset trust

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A team of community nurses in Dorset is using electric bikes to visit their patients as part of an initiative to improve staff wellbeing, patient engagement and the environment, one of the nurses leading the project has revealed to Nursing Times.

Hattie Taylor, from Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust, explained how riding an e-bike to patient’s homes has made the team more “visible in the community” and has helped to change the public’s perception of what community nursing is really like.

“The bikes make us visible in the community, which is great because a lot of the work nurses do is invisible to most people”

Hattie Taylor

Queen’s nurse Ms Taylor, who is the driving force behind the ‘Pedal Powered Professionals’ initiative, has been nursing since 2000, after qualifying from the University of the West of England.

She told Nursing Times how the e-bike initiative was sparked by a group trip to Holland, suggested by the trust, in April 2018. The trip saw six members from the Dorset community nursing team shadow a group of Dutch community nurses on their visits to patients.

“We followed colleagues that do similar to what we do here, but here we go out and about in our cars and there, because it’s quite flat, they all go out on bikes,” Ms Taylor explained.

Each one of the Dorset nurses was allocated a Dutch nurse and followed them around on bikes, while learning about the way they organise their nursing care in Holland.

Following the trip, Ms Taylor said the team agreed that using the bikes made a difference to their working day in which they had fun travelling to patient homes.

“I think it’s changed people’s perception of what community nursing was like”

Hattie Taylor

She said: “They realised that it was a lot quicker sometimes on a bike than in a car, because you don’t have to wait in traffic and you don’t have to find a parking space, you just arrive.”

“And it felt like you were doing something that was helping you keep fit as well and it helped you to get a bit of fresh air and get a different perspective than you do when you’re just sitting down in a car,” the lead district nurse added.

On their return to England, Ms Taylor sat down with her colleagues to try and find a way that they could implement bikes into community nursing.

She noted that some nurses raised concerns over the professionalism of turning up sweaty after riding a bike to a visit, particularly considering the hills and uneven roads that areas of Purbeck entail.

Ms Taylor said she was continuing to talk to colleagues and peers when a friend of hers suggested electronic bikes, which would not cause sweating, she told Nursing Times.

She then contacted Fizz Bikes, an e-bike company based in Poole and led by a former GP. As a result, the trust rented two bikes at £35 a month and the scheme was up and running just six weeks after their trip to Holland.

“Patients really like them as well, they like seeing us turning up with our helmets on and they think it’s funny” 

Hattie Taylor

“My manager came with us to Holland and saw the positive attitude the team had there and so told me to go ahead and hire the bikes,” noted Ms Taylor.

Since having the e-bikes, she said they had seen a positive reception from both staff and patients, though noted that it was a weather-permitting activity.

“People get from A to B sometimes a lot quicker on the bike and they’re able to incorporate a bit of exercise into their day,” she said. “Patients really like them as well, they like seeing us turning up with our helmets on and they think it’s funny and entertaining.”

For the wider community, she said the nurses are also seen as “role models for keeping fit” and added that the bikes make the team more “visible” for the public.

“The bikes make us visible in the community, which is great because a lot of the work nurses do, particularly in the community, is actually invisible to most people,” said Ms Taylor, adding: “It’s great to be out on our bikes in our uniforms in town, riding to the next visit.”

The lead district nurse also highlighted how the initiative has helped to raise awareness of just how many people are working in the community.

“It’s changed people’s perception of what community nursing was like, because we are a mixed group but there are lots of us who are actually quite keen to get out on bikes and be active,” she said.

By sharing their story, the community nurses in Dorset want more trusts and teams to explore the benefits of using electric bikes.

The initiative was also shortlisted last year at the Nursing Times Workforce Awards in the staff wellbeing and engagement category.

dorset team

dorset team

Source: Hattie Taylor

 

kt on bike

kt on bike

Source: Hattie Taylor

 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Brilliant idea! Find it funny/enlightening that the community nurses can proudly wear their uniforms and be easily identified compared with my hospital trusts policy of not being seen in uniform outside work.

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