Category Archives: Academic and clinical

Basic nursing care, done well, is complex, isn’t it?

Basic nursing care – what’s in a word?

What does ‘basic’ nursing care mean to you? This perhaps springs to mind aspects of care such as washing, mouthcare, and assistance for eating and drinking amongst other aspects of living that we normally perform for ourselves when well. Such Activities of Daily Living might be regarded as ‘basic’ as they are easy to learn and don’t require a great deal of mental effort to perform. For others, however, the word ‘basic’ is belittling to the art and science of nursing, reducing nursing to little more than the performance of a series of simple tasks. ‘Basic’ seems to involve what to do (e.g. clean mouth) and how  (e.g. brush teeth) to do it, but does not readily seem to encompass when, who, where, how; and perhaps the most important question word – why (e.g. to promote personal comfort, to facilitate meaning as being regarded as a fellow worthy human being, to maintain homeostasis and reduce the risk of nosocomial pneumonia). Just because the care is directed at basic needs, does that make the care basic too?

What’s better than basic? Fundamental? Essential? Something else?

Alternative terminology such as ‘fundamental’ or ‘essential’ nursing care have been proposed, yet ‘basic’ sticks (for example). This is a deceptively complex and controversial topic which deserves a much more thorough and referenced exploration than I will provide here. For now, I wish simply to propose an acronym, and I would like to know your views on it: BASIC.

Basic care, done well, is complex, but is BASIC nonetheless

Best Care ought to be the best possible skilfully performed care that the nurse can deliver (within the limits of experience, ability, time and cost), not a mechanically performed task
Authentic Care ought to be delivered authentically, that is, delivered purposefully with positive intentions by someone who genuinely cares and wants to care
Specific Care ought to be specific, in other words, patient/person-centred, not task/nurse-centred
Informed Care ought to be informed, in other words, evidence-based (remembering that evidence-based practice includes not just best research evidence but the expertise of practitioners and patient preferences)
Compassionate Care ought to be delivered compassionately, such that the patient/person feels cared for

What do you think?

Do you think that ‘re-claiming’ the word BASIC to show that, when done well (in such a way as to best achieve effective care i.e. maximise patient outcomes), basic care is in fact highly skilled with a good deal of mental effort required? Or do you think this would simply perpetuate the notion that a great deal of what a nurse does is low skill, low mental effort? Do you think my suggestion is nothing more than re-inventing the wheel? Whatever your view, basic or complex, I’d love to hear it.

Want to improve patient care? Then become a clinical researcher

New digital magazine aims to inspire the next generation of researchers*

A new magazine called The Researcher has launched today. The digital publication, created for early career researchers by early career researchers aims to raise awareness of research careers among nurses, midwives and allied health professionals.

Working in collaboration with Health Education England (HEE), NHS North West Research and Development and a team of early career researchers, along with award winning writer Rob Young, we have produced the magazine, which illustrates the real-life stories of what it is like to undertake a research career.

Two further editions of The Researcher are planned over the next six months. This first edition has the theme of ‘Breaking boundaries’ and is available to read at http://bit.ly/TheResearcherMag_Summer2016

Please let NIHR know your comments on Twitter using #TheResearcherMagazine.

*Text above reproduced from here

Is group work actually any good for the individuals’ learning?

Does working as a group actually help us learn? by Dean Burnett

Have you ever wondered whether all that group work you have (had) to do at university was of much benefit for your own learning? Does the thought of another group assignment make you want to vomit? Whether it does or not, I advise you read this excellent piece on group/team learning by Dean Burnett, where he covers many of the pros and cons of learning in groups. Bear in mind though that for all the potential faults associated with learning in a group, nurses have to work in teams, and effective teamwork is essential to get the best outcomes for our patients.

TBL in action - Medical Students announcing their team answers to their group-work, Tulane University

TBL in action – Medical Students announcing their team answers to their group-work, Tulane University

Evidence is starting to suggest that team-based learning  (TBL) is an effective strategy for promoting the development of skills and knowledge required of 21st century nurses, including that of critical thinking (for example). For that reason I’ve started introducing TBL into the nursing curriculum at BU in the teaching of applied pathophysiology (I’ll be presenting results on the evaluation of this at NET2016 in Cambridge, September 2016 – suffice to say the results are looking good).

The benefits of working as a team is not just about individual learning of course. As Burdett concludes, ‘It’s rare to encounter an employer or institute that doesn’t emphasise “teamwork skills” these days, and in our increasingly interconnected society, learning how to be part of a group is something worth working on, regardless of the task itself”. So, learn to love the team…

NB. A group of individuals may remain just that, and not function as an team. So with group work we also want to encourage the development of effective teams.