Background Introducing change to service can be challenging. Following an audit of electronic handover (e-handover), a multi-professional group of palliative care doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, developed a Standard Operational Procedure (SOP) to guide staff and ensure e-handover consistently addressed patients' specific palliative care needs. As part of this intervention, multi-professional teaching regarding changes to e-handover was provided, with the intention to engage the whole team in supporting communication within and between professional groups, and to improve patient care.
Methods A survey was designed to measure staff views on their perceived impact of the SOP on the handover, communication and patient care. This was administered over a two week period in September 2017 on paper and electronically. Twenty-seven surveys were completed by doctors, nurses and clinical support workers who use e-handover.
Results Ninety-two percent of those surveyed felt that the handover was easier to read, 100% felt they had a clearer understanding of what information to include on the handover, 92% had a better understanding of escalation status and 47% of nurses felt it was easier to explain this status to a doctor out of hours. Assessing advance care planning, 85% felt they had a better understanding of a patient's preferred place of death. Sixty-six percent of those surveyed felt patient care had improved as a result of these changes. Comments included ‘this has been a great development which ensures a more robust and consistent approach to handover. However, 48% felt the changes had resulted in handover being more time consuming.
Conclusion Multi-professional input to support changes in the e-handover led to improved communication between staff, a clearer understanding of escalation status and preferred place of death for patients, leading to improved patient care. Further work is required to understand the cause of time burdens in completing handover.
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