Background Palliative care provision is becoming increasingly complex, and more of this care needs to be delivered within the community. Demands on our community Outreach Team are increasing; therefore new models of care are needed (Spencer, 2015).
Aim To assess the impact a triage nurse role would have on the quality of service delivered by the hospice outreach team.
Method (i) A time and motion study to capture the team’s activities in a typical working week (ii) The secondment of an experienced nurse from the in-patient unit to work with the outreach team as a triage nurse (iii) The time and motion study was repeated two months following the introduction of the triage nurse role (iv) Evaluation of the new service was gained via questionnaires from hospice colleagues and members of the multidisciplinary team in the community.
Results Reduction of time spent on the telephone facilitated:
Regular case reviews to prioritise care
Opportunity to provide additional education
Opportunity to explore research
Recognised boost to staff welfare – able to have lunch/attend supervision.
Conclusion Triage is the process of prioritising patient care based on the severity and complexity of their situation and has been found to enable services to respond promptly to patient demand. Feedback from the questionnaires was universally positive.
Examples ‘ Really nice to hear a voice, not an answer phone’ (Patient); ‘Response is immediate, confident and knowledgeable and very helpful’ (Social Worker).
This study has demonstrated that the addition of a triage nurse working with the hospice Outreach team has changed practice and enabled the beginnings of a uniformed, structured approach – enhancing channels of communication; developing professional relationships whilst being flexible enough to meet the ever-changing needs of the local population.
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