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NT Comment: All-encompassing standard may be too great to be good

  • Comment
ESSENCE of Care has been a success with nurses. Launched in 2001, these practical tools emphasised getting the basics right, allowing nurses to take a structured, patient-focused approach to sharing and comparing practice. But their success depended on their ease of use and their focus on nursing practice. It is worrying, then, that the latest benchmark on the ‘care environment’ is so large and so wide-ranging (p9).

ESSENCE of Care has been a success with nurses. Launched in 2001, these practical tools emphasised getting the basics right, allowing nurses to take a structured, patient-focused approach to sharing and comparing practice. But their success depended on their ease of use and their focus on nursing practice. It is worrying, then, that the latest benchmark on the ‘care environment’ is so large and so wide-ranging (p9).

Aspects such as tidiness and infection control measures go to the heart of nursing. But can we really expect overworked nurses to undertake yet another audit of their infection control measures? If they’re already meeting Healthcare Commission core standards, they’re unlikely to see any further benefits.

The earlier benchmarks covered much of the same ground. As one nurse told NT: ‘There’s so much crossover, you could just about get rid of the others and only use this one.’ The care environment benchmark even includes best practice indicators on car-parking costs, signs and hospital decor. It will be hard for nurses to effect change in areas such as these.

While it is important for documents to be all-encompassing, there is a danger of burdening nurses with yet more audit and administration work in areas that may be out of their control.

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