For students and recently qualified staff, having the confidence to escalate care for young patients can mean earlier detection of issues, and improved chances of recovery.
Nottingham Children’s Hospital treats over 40,000 every single year, with 120 beds across the wards and three day case units seeing children for appointments in oncology, surgery and general medicine.
Kate Berridge was working in the education team, supporting junior and newly qualified members of staff, when she saw a gap between a student nurse being supported during their studies, and their experience once qualified, with real responsibility to spot issues with the youngest patients in Nottingham Children’s Hospital and escalate where needed.
With a background as a Junior Sister in critical care, Kate realised this was often down to confidence, and young staff having the experience and faith in their knowledge to act if and when needed.
A lightbulb momentThis moment of realisation sparked a project, funded by Nottingham Hospitals Charity, to develop pocket-sized reference cards for newly qualified staff and students to refer to when on duty. These cards, which when laminated can be attached to a lanyard, contain all sorts of crucial reference information at a glance, to support healthcare staff in their day-to-day care.
Kate developed the reference materials based on input from the evidence-based council recommendations. They include emergency procedures, routine feeding charts, observations and escalation protocols, safeguarding information, and general care guidelines.
The ultimate goal was to empower staff with readily available information, giving them confidence to approach another member of staff for support if a young patient displays vital signs which are outside of the age-appropriate standards.
Making an impact on patient careThe project was funded by the Quick Wins programme, which is an initiative set up by Nottingham Hospitals Charity to approve smaller grants under £2,000, which could be implemented quickly. The programme is run in partnership with the hospital’s Improvement & Transformation team - for more information contact: I&TT@nuh.nhs.uk.
The Charity granted £647 to kick-start the project, which covered the initial costs of ordering and printing the cards. Longer term, Kate plans to update the cards every three years and sell additional copies, income from which will go towards reprints to continue the project in a sustainable way.
The cards have now been distributed across Nottingham Children’s Hospital and the impact has been felt by students and newly qualified staff alike. With the reference cards readily available on lanyards, healthcare staff can quickly access vital information in emergency situations.
Kate said: “This project has really emphasised the importance of preventing transitional shock for our junior members of staff after they have qualified, and easing stress in high-pressure situations.
“The feedback from staff has been overwhelmingly positive, instilling confidence and competence within our newly qualified colleagues. For students who are from beyond Nottingham, perhaps Sheffield or Derby, having access to these reference cards contributes towards a standardisation of care across the region too, so it’s having an even wider positive impact.”
Taking pride in new ideasKate is also a Charity Scholar, and feels so proud of the project's success, highlighting its alignment with her degree subject of Research and Innovation.
In Kate's words, "I'm really proud of it. The cards cover the most basic things to give confidence, so they feel reassured that they know what they're doing.”
This innovative project is a testament to the positive impact that a bright idea within a department can have, to improve outcomes for both healthcare professionals and the young patients they serve. Nottingham Children's Hospital extends a heartfelt thank you to donors like you, for making this transformative project possible.