Healthcare Assistants as Second Checkers of Controlled Drugs for Timely Symptom Management in a Hospice Setting

Leader(s)Angela Ives, Claire Gibbons, Caroline Marks, Vicky Hartland, Scott Cockayne, Surinder Raja, Debbie Tongue, Debbie Guest
LocationCompton Hospice, Wolverhampton
DurationSeptember 2013 – April 2015
Received for PublicationMay 2016

Staff at a palliative care unit identified the need to improve symptom management for patients. The goal was to look at a complete change in process to establish a facilitated training programme to allow healthcare assistants (HCAs) to second check controlled drugs. A successful application was submitted to the Foundation of Nursing Studies (FoNS) Patients First Programme for support with the project.

The project team consisted of the clinical nurse specialist, ward sister, two staff nurses and four health care assistants to represent each area of the nursing team. The project team identified key stakeholders and engaged them in order to promote the project, enhance successful change management and support the implementation and development. Various methods and approaches were used to ensure continued engagement throughout the project. It was felt it was important for the team to establish common ground in relation to beliefs and values when looking to develop patient centred care through workshops incorporating various methods to achieve this. A new policy was developed for the project and a competency framework was developed to ensure robust risk management and continued guidelines for future practice.

Skills acquired by team members through being involved in this project include facilitating learning and development days, report writing, project management and witnessing the administration of controlled drugs.

The project has resulted in improved symptom management for patients on the inpatient unit. In addition, it has improved the HCAs level of knowledge and feeling of worth and fostered a culture where change and innovation are embraced by the team. The project continues to be successful with continued learning and development days for new and existing HCAs.

This project was supported by the Foundation of Nursing Studies Patients First Programme in partnership with the Burdett Trust for Nursing.

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