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Clinical news summary: Top nurse research and practice stories from August 2018

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Miss any of the clinical and practice news affecting the profession during August 2018? Catch up with our summary of the main study headlines and clinical breakthroughs.


Peer support staff ‘cut readmission to mental health crisis units’

Mental health

Mental health

Care from peer support workers with lived experience of mental health conditions may help reduce readmission for people who have recently left acute mental health care, according to UK researchers.

The researchers noted that more than half of people admitted to acute care were readmitted within a year in the UK, with little “robust evidence” on how to reduce them.

Their study, involving more than 400 people with a variety of diagnoses and published in The Lancet, took place across six crisis resolution teams in England. All participants continued treatment and usual care throughout the study.

The study combined a self-management workbook with help from a trained support worker who had also experienced a mental health problem. Participants either received the workbook alone or peer support as well. Participants who received peer support were offered 10 weekly one-hour sessions.

“Our study provides the most robust evidence for the effectiveness of any peer-provided support”

Sonia Johnson

Uptake was seen as good, with 72% of people offered the support and workbook attending at least three meetings with their support worker and a third attending all 10 meetings. After one year, 29% of participants were readmitted from the intervention group versus 38% of controls.

Lead author Professor Sonia Johnson, from University College London, said: “Peer support workers could provide support and encouragement that is particularly warm and empathetic.”

She added: “Our study provides the most robust evidence for the effectiveness of any peer-provided support in a UK secondary mental health setting. Our novel findings are potentially important as the intervention is acceptable to patients and feasible for service managers and users.”


Royal college recommends universal provision of ‘baby boxes’ in UK

Scottish government

Registration for Scotland’s baby boxes initiative underway

Baby box

The Royal College of Midwives has announced it supports the universal provision of baby boxes in the UK. It said in a position statement it believed providing baby boxes, where the infant has its own sleep space, was likely to reduce the risks associated with unsafe co-sleeping. At present, they are given to all new babies in Scotland and by some trusts in England.


Routine use of opioid painkiller ‘could halve need for epidurals’

Newborn baby childbirth maternity midwifery

Giving a drug called remifentanil during labour could halve the number of women needing an epidural, a UK study has revealed. The RESPITE trial compared two drugs given for pain control during child labour and assessed how many of the participants later required an epidural. The first and largest trial of its kind, it involved 400 women giving birth at 14 hospitals during 2014-16.


NICE promotes honey and OTC mixtures for most coughs


Source: Lisa F. Young

Honey or over-the-counter cough medicines should be the first port of call for people with a nasty cough, according to draft antimicrobial prescribing guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. The vast majority of acute coughs are caused by the cold or flu virus and antibiotics make little difference to symptoms, it stated.


Patients with HCAIs report ‘suffering social and emotional pain’

MRSA is a relatively common feature of many surgical site infections

MRSA is a relatively common feature of many surgical site infections

The consequences of healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) reach well beyond patients’ physical health, sometimes leading to soured social relationships, according to researchers. They found many patients experienced an emotional response to their diagnosis and described “feeling dirty,” “having the plague,” or “feeling like a leper”. The researchers, from Glasgow Caledonian University, looked at 17 studies from five different countries addressing five common types of HCAIs.


Hospital superbugs developing ‘tolerance to alcohol disinfectants’

Glasgow Caledonian University

Six-step hand-washing technique ‘most effective’

A multidrug-resistant bacterial species that can cause infections in hospitals is becoming increasingly tolerant to the alcohols used in handwash disinfectants, according to Australian researchers. They said analysis of bacterial samples taken from two hospitals in Melbourne over 19 years suggested that the species Enterococcus faecium was adapting to a current “mainstay of infection control”.

Hospital superbugs developing ‘tolerance to alcohol disinfectants’


Support scheme boosting hydration and nutrition in care homes


Water bottle

Hydration and nutrition has improved among care home residents following a programme of tailored support, according to an evaluation. It found care home staff were “overwhelmingly positive” about the scheme set up by Surrey Downs Clinical Commissioning Group. The Quality in Care Homes team has so far worked with a third of the homes in the area.


Rehab based on goals being rolled out for dementia patients

bake cooking cupcakes kitchen

bake cooking cupcakes kitchen

Source: ING Image

A therapy that helps people with dementia achieve everyday goals is being rolled out to 13 health and care providers, after a successful trial. Exeter University is leading a programme to train health and care professionals in the technique known as “goal orientated cognitive rehabilitation”, as part of further research to see whether it can be incorporated into routine practice.


Measles vaccination warning amid spate of European outbreaks

Needles, jobs and vaccination

Pharmacist aims to cut jab errors with better guidance for nurses

Source: University of Bath

Health leaders are warning of a need to ensure patients are up to date with measles vaccination, following a “dramatic” rise in outbreaks across Europe. More than 41,000 people have been infected in the first six months of 2018, leading to 37 deaths, which is far higher than any annual total recorded so far this decade, according to the World Health Organization. Latest Public Health England figures show there have 828 laboratory confirmed measles cases in England this year.


Nurse seeks young chronic pain patients for storytelling study

Manchester Metropolitan University

Mary Lockwood

Mary Lockwood

A nurse researcher is seeking children who suffer from chronic pain to take part in a study looking at how storytelling might improve communication between young patients and clinicians. Mary Lockwood, a PhD student in nursing at Manchester Metropolitan University, is also aiming to provide more insight into how children cope and deal with pain.


College issues warning over new term ‘spike’ in asthma risk

The focus group found children needed asthma advice before finishing year six

The focus group found children needed asthma advice before finishing year six

Children going back to school are at higher risk of asthma attacks, the Royal College of Nursing has warned, ahead of the start of the new term. It urged parents and carers to remind children to use their inhaler before school starts again to help prevent the “September Spike” in emergency asthma admissions.

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