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Senior nurses to carry out unannounced ward visits to measure ‘first impressions’

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Teams of lead nurses, ward sisters and ward staff, backed by hospital governors, are to start doing surprise visits, as part of a fresh approach being introduced by a trust’s senior nursing staff.

The move is being adopted to “put the spotlight” on the quality of clinical areas on wards across Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole hospitals.

“We can build a picture of that area and see where we can make improvements”

Ellie Monkhouse

A “squad” of staff and governors will be calling in unannounced on wards and will be working with staff as part of a new quality assurance programme called 15 steps.

Those visiting the wards have all undertaken training to carry out the assessments, noted Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust.

The nursing team across Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole hospitals have piloted the 15 steps challenge and will be rolling it out this month.

The 15 steps focuses on ward walk arounds where the team considers their first impressions of the area from the perspective of a service user, said the trust.

Speaking about the new ward walks, the trust’s interim chief nurse Ellie Monkhouse said: “Patient and staff experience is absolutely key in all that we do.

“That is why we are rolling out this simple but effective way of measuring the first impressions of what you see and feel when walking onto our wards,” she said.

“I want to make sure people coming onto our wards, either as a patient or a visitor, have a positive experience,” said Ms Monkhouse.

“It is about those all-important first impressions and what they say about the wards and the staff working on there”

Melanie Sharp

She added: “By looking at the environment, and taking on board views from patients and staff, we can build a picture of that area and see where we can make improvements.”

Ms Monkhouse said 15 steps was one of a number of initiatives being implemented to provide feedback about the “challenges our staff are facing on their wards”.

It is being rolled out as part of the Future 5 nursing and midwifery priorities for 2019-20 which have been developed by the trust’s chief nursing team.

Melanie Sharp, assistant chief nurse, said: “When patients, relatives and carers walk onto a ward they get a feel of how it looks, feels and the quality of treatment they will receive.

“We are using the 15 steps challenge methodology to carry out unannounced visits to our wards to look at them through the eyes of our patients,” she said.

“It is about those all-important first impressions and what they say about the wards and the staff working on there,” said Ms Sharp.

She added: “In one sentence, in 15 steps of walking onto a ward, is it cluttered, is it noisy, what does it smell like, what is the décor like? All of these things give us an immediate picture.

“It could be something as simple as making sure the hand gel dispensers are routinely cleaned and filled, or areas that need a lick of paint or better storage for their equipment,” she noted.

The team will be made up of lead nurses, ward sisters, ward staff and governors and they will be visiting wards, speaking to patients and making an assessment.

“We are so wrapped up in what we are doing that we often don’t see things through the eyes of our patients”

Wyn Davis

Each ward will be visited twice a year and will receive a rating of outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate.

These ratings are based on the system used by the Care Quality Commission and will allow the trust to understand the issues affecting frontline staff and provide support to make things better, it said.

Scunthorpe’s ward 27 piloted the new programme. Wyn Davis, a staff nurse on the ward, said: “It certainly focused our minds on what is important to patients, relatives and carers.

“We are so wrapped up in what we are doing that we often don’t see things through the eyes of our patients,” he said.

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole provides acute hospital and community services to a population of more than 400,000 people across North and North East Lincolnshire and East Riding of Yorkshire.

It has three hospitals: Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby, Scunthorpe General Hospital and Goole and District Hospital. We also deliver community services in North Lincolnshire.

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