I qualified as a nurse in 1985, but I have never stopped learning.
NICE guidance has played a big part in helping me to improve the care for my patients and their loved ones.
In 2007 I was working as a nurse consultant in a critical care outreach team. I wanted to know how we could better identify patients who were at high risk of having a cardiac arrest in hospital.
Helpfully, NICE had just published guidance that detailed how to spot adults who were acutely unwell. This gave me the evidence base I needed to convince my colleagues that an electronic method of recording patients’ vital signs would enhance their care. Within a year we had reduced our cardiac arrest incidents from 30 to 10 per month.
In 2011 my focus moved to improving the quality of care in local care homes. My local area has close to 90 care homes with between 1700-2000 residents. I noticed that their service contracts focused on length of stay and cost, but did not set standards for the quality of care.
I turned to NICE quality standards, using them as a guide, setting achievable goals that would promote quality in the care home service contracts and I worked with colleagues to introduce an improvement team, which focuses on the quality of care and has clinical leadership.
This is now progressing and providing a better understanding of what is needed to drive quality improvement.
Implementing change is difficult. It takes time and demands a high level of staff engagement. I know that having the NICE guidance there to support the effort makes a huge difference.