The Older Person’s Nurse Fellowship Conference 2016: Bridging the gap between research and practice through nurse-led quality improvement in older person’s services

Dr Corina Naughton, is a senior lecturer in the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, Kings College London. Corina is joint Lead for the Older Person’s Nurse Fellowship programme. She tweets at @corina_naughton

OPNThis was the first year of the Older Person’s Nurse Fellowship (OPNF) conference, hosted by the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, King’s College London, in collaboration with Health Education England (HEE). The conference brought together leading older persons’ nurse research and front-line nurse-led quality improvement initiatives undertaken by senior clinical nurses from the OPNF programme. The conference was chaired By Baroness Sally Greengross and Sir Keith Person (Chair HEE).

Professor Jackie Bridges from Southampton University presented preliminary findings from the Creating Learning Environments for Compassionate Care feasibility study. Professor Bridges emphasised the importance of designing flexible and adaptable interventions to meet the challenges of the local context. For example, the need to build in staff turn-over into how training can be sustained over time.

Dr Caroline Nicholson described her feasibility study designed to enhance and harness the experiences of family and friends during hospital admissions of an older person. The core elements in the ‘Very Important Person’ staff training focuses on recognising and valuing the role of family and friends as carers (video).

Professor Jill Maben addressed the question ‘Can health care assistant training improve relational care of older people?’ This feasibility study indicated the value of investing in this type of training to promote greater empathy between carers and their patients.

The mechanism for closing the gap between research and practice was illustrated by the 15 quality improvement and service innovation projects presented by Fellows of the OPNF programme (oral and poster presentations). Some of these projects were featured in the BGS March 2016 Newsletter. Projects included the introduction of frailty, advanced care planning, depression, delirium or dementia screening and management pathways into current services in the community, primary care, nursing home, mental health or acute care and emergency care.

Sir Keith Pearson, Chair of Health Education England, presented £20,000 to the winning project ‘Improving Patient Safety: reducing levels of violence and aggression’ by Geraldine Rodgers, Nurse Consultant for Frailty and Long-term conditions, NELFT NHS Foundation Trust. The best poster prize, sponsored by McGraw-Hill education, was awarded to Joanna James, Lead Nurse Dementia, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, for her project ‘Pain recognition and management in patients with dementia in acute care’.

The conference concluded with a debate on ‘Future-proofing the workforce for older people’, Anne Williams, Older Person’s Nursing Fellow & Nurse Consultant in primary care, illustrated the need for new models of nurse preparation e.g. direct entry to primary care nursing. Chris North, Older Person’s Nursing Fellow & Dementia Lead, mental health services, described pockets of local innovation but a dominance of career and academic stagnation in developing the older person’s workforce. Professor Lisa Bayliss-Pratt (HEE) talked of opportunities and challenges through ‘The Shape of Caring’ report, and the need for strong leadership to emerge from the grassroots of nurses passionate about the care of older people, and from programmes such as the OPNF. Cliff Kilgore, Nurse Consultant and Vice Chair BGS Nurses and AHP group, stressed the need to drive an outward-facing and confident Older Person’s Nurse Specialty through collaboration with influential organisations such as the British Geriatrics Society, and the RCN Older People’s Forum.

The final key message was delivered by Fiona Clark, a Patient Public Involvement representative. Fiona emphasized the need for new workforce models – models which respect and value older people, and those close to them, placing both at the centre of care, and making time to ask what their priorities are.

The conference showcased and celebrated how higher level education programmes informed by cutting edge research can help achieve organisational priorities for quality improvement and service innovation in older people’s care. However, the conference also highlighted the need for sustainable models of education provision to help develop gerontologic nursing.

For more information on the Older Person’s Nurse Fellowship, or for updates on future fellowships, please visit the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery website.

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