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'We have to make all team members aware of the value they bring'


Student nurse, Elena Ivany, wants everyone - no matter what their role - to work together to put patients at the centre of hospital care

All staff on the ward should be aware of their responsibility towards the patient.

Nurses must be team players. Even though, as nurses, we are in the privileged position of spending the most time with each patient, excellent nursing care relies heavily on the input of numerous other healthcare professionals.

Yet the healthcare team are not the only individuals whose hard work has a direct effect on the welfare of the patient. Recently, I have been thinking about the role of all other members of staff, such as food service assistance, ward clerks and housekeepers to name but a few, who also play a key part in a client’s journey towards recovery.

The situation that got me thinking about the patient-care team seems straightforward enough. A poorly patient receiving parenteral feed alongside a soft diet had changed her mind about her meal order while lunch service was in full flow.

This caused a certain amount of confusion in the kitchen, leading to a disagreement between several members of the ward staff. The fact that members of a group are likely to have disagreements from time to time is not in itself suprising. After all, while we are all working together, we are each our own individual with independent opinions and beliefs.

However, what I did find interesting about this situation is that, while one person aimed to uphold the patient’s wishes, the other was more focused on their direct task at hand, even though this meant compromising the client’s preferences. The key point in this disagreement, I believe, is the fact that the individuals involved were working alongside each other, but not together.

One of the nurse’s key duties is to ensure that each patient receives what I would call “360° degree care”, often described in literature as holistic care.

This means that it is our role to encourage all members of the team, be they directly responsible for the patient’s medical care or not, to be aware of the value that each individual brings to the patient. After all, patients’ experience of healthcare is just as likely to be influenced by the work performed by kitchen assistants and ward clerks as it is by the actions of the medical professionals.

It falls to nurses, therefore, to ensure that each member of the large group that oversees a client’s journey through healthcare understands that, however distinct their roles, the ultimate aim and the flexibility and committment required to achieve this aim, must be shared by the entire team. 


Readers' comments (3)

  • Gemma Watford

    I agree with the above statement. Care should not be viewed as 'task orientated' but rather as the student nurse describes, as holistic care. In the task orientated approach to care, you most certainly ignore the patient's preferences, which is not what holistic care is about. The person(s), involved in the incident of a patient changing his or her mind about what to eat, must bear in mind it is their right and their choice, as a patient to do so. The people who disagree with each other on this ought to learn how to compromise, and come to some sort of civilised agreement about how they approach the situation if it happened in future. We need to get back to basics here folks if we are to achieve what patients ask us to do and expect us to provide- patient centred, holistic or 360 degree care, as is written in literature!

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  • michael stone

    Whatever many nurses tell me, 'rules and tasking' do get in the way of 'sense' (I would say 'common sense' but common sense is only 'common' within a given peer group, if it is common at all) in this world in many places, and especially in large and interactive organisations such as the NHS, and hospitals.
    Both of you go with 'patient-centred care' and that seems to be ignored, quite often, in favour of 'task-oriented' behaviour, as if patients were not people, with feelings. I still suspect, that this is related to the increasingly academic nature of nursing courses - you need to apply clinical knowledge to a patient's requirements, not instead of listening to patients.

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  • Is anyone living in the real world here? You know, the one with swingeing cuts, no staff, no resources and no time to go for a break (coffee or loo!), because you don't have time to stop. Back to basics?
    Here's how to make all members of the team feel valued. Give them the staff and resources to actually do their job in the way that they want to do it. Address the barriers that prevent them from carrying out that care. Patient centred care is not always ignored, it is often just not possible in the way that we wish it to be.
    Oh and paying us what we're worth might help. That would be infinitely more valuable than fatuous lectures.

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