Nurses must be better supported by the NHS, as their experience directly impacts on their ability to provide good patient care, according to a leading nursing academic.
Jill Maben, director of the National Nursing Research Unit at King’s College London, highlighted the “importance of staff experience” in her inaugural lecture as a professor on 1 May.
“You can’t have good patient experience without good staff experience,” she said, stating that recent research by the NNRU had proven a link between the two.
“The question we should be asking is: how do we support nurses better so they are not overwhelmed and they don’t become indifferent [to patients’ needs],” she said.
“Students enter the profession to give good care, yet ideals, compassion and empathy erode and can become crushed in poor practice environments. Lack of staff, no role models, little support and preceptorship contribute to this erosion.
“An inability to provide good care saps motivation and, indeed, when they can’t give good care moral distress ensues,” she warned.
Professor Maben called for increased use of innovations such as “Schwartz rounds” and “restorative supervision”, in which staff attend regular sessions where they can discuss difficult emotional and social issues arising from patient or reflect on experiences.
But she also said the profession needed to “push hard” for minimum nurse-patient ratios, noting that understaffing was a recurrent theme described by nurses in her research.
In addition, she said more support was needed for the “neglected” ward sister role and suggested that trust board meetings hear “staff stories” in the same way that many already hear patient stories.
“Nurses need to feel valued, listened to and get timely accurate feedback to feel engaged – and there absolutely is a link between staff experiences of work and patient experiences of care,” she said. “If the job is making nurses sick, why not fix the job, rather than the nurses.”
- Some of Professor Maben’s recent research on the topic is described in the NNRU’s latest Policy Plus research summary report: tinyurl.com/JMaben
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