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Partnering with others to adopt best practices in nursing at Aberdeen Hospital

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Photo Credit: Aberdeen Health Foundation

Kristin MacNeil

Nurses at Aberdeen Hospital’s inpatient medicine unit partnered with St. Francis Xavier University (StFX) and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) to adopt best practice guidelines for pressure injuries and care transitions. The result? Better patient care and more satisfied nurses.

Aberdeen Hospital nursing pilot project brings positive change

Aberdeen Hospital’s medicine unit is taking a turn for the better.

The unit’s nursing team recently partnered with Saint Francis Xavier University (St. FX) to significantly improve patient care while creating better conditions for a safe and healthy workplace across NSHA (Nova Scotia Health Authority).

For the past three years, St. FX has been partnered with the Registered Association of Nurses Ontario (RANO) to ensure the university’s curriculum reflects evidence-based best practice.

In 2017, St. FX invited Aberdeen Hospital nurses to be part of the project. With only a year to implement this pilot project, the team decided to focus on two guidelines: pressure injuries and care transitions, both in the hospital’s medicine unit.

Before the project started, bedside care routines weren’t practical and didn’t meet best practice standards. Nurses used a tape report system; every morning they were required to listen to a 45- to 60-minute recording. This would delay their morning by an hour every day, which meant patients weren’t getting medication on time and meals were late being delivered – and often cold.

As a result, patients were ringing bells and nurses were feeling behind in their work, which created stress. Nurses on the unit weren’t just ready for change; they needed change.

The first step was sending a team to Ontario to learn and watch best practice in real time.

Professional practice and project leader Carla MacDonald, NSHA northern zone director Nancy MacConnell-Maxner, registered nurse (RN) Sandy Kennedy, St. FX school of nursing assistant professor Janet Purvis and Dalhousie University faculty of medicine student affairs assistant dean Dr. Joanne MacDonald spent three days learning how small but significant changes can make a big difference in hospital settings.

Next, the team looked at current NSHA policies, compared them to best practice guidelines, and examined what was actually being done in practice.

With this behind-the-scenes work complete, the team organized a three-day champion workshop for a group of 12 nurses selected to engage and lead the project.

Changes to care transitions happened quickly on the medicine unit.

Right away, the team decided to scrap the tape recording and administer a 15-minute verbal update each morning. With that one change, medications and meals were delivered on time, which made patients and nurses happier.

“Changes to care transition were crucial and the medicine unit nursing staff nailed it,” MacDonald said.

A similar approach was taken with pressure injuries, but the changes took more time to enforce.

This pilot project is now in the research stage, with statistics being gathered from this past year’s progress. The next step is to expand this best practice strategy to hospitals across the province.