Latest newsletter for nurses and nursing associates

Published on 21 January 2022

Hear more about how person-centred care is vital

Our latest nursing newsletter features Deena Paul, an adult immune haematology nurse specialist for Imperial College Trust. She recently collaborated with us on a case study. It focuses on a nursing student's experience on placement in a haematology ward.

Deena explains what happened in this scenario, the importance of person-centred care, and how our new Standards for Student Supervision and Assessment (SSSA) can help professionals in similar situations.

What was the scenario about?

The scenario focuses on a student nurse called Naomi. She cared for a person called Joseph, who had sickle cell disease. Sickle cell is most commonly found in people from Black and minority ethnic groups.

Joseph was in a lot of pain and played music to help himself cope. Naomi didn’t realise this at the time. She asked Joseph to turn the volume down as it was disturbing other people on the ward. Joseph became very distressed. He began shouting and telling her that she didn’t empathise with his situation. He also commented that if sickle cell disease occurred in white people, then people would understand more about it.

Naomi decided to sit with Joseph and listen to his experiences. This helped to diffuse the situation. They also discussed the type of music they liked and Naomi helped Joseph to find a charger for his headphones. That was a turning point for Naomi. They had found a common interest and it was clear that Joseph was using music as a distraction.

Naomi also noticed some leaflets about healthy eating. She asked Joseph about the connection between a balanced diet and sickle cell disease. Naomi understood that Joseph would know a lot about this, and that as a student, she still had things to learn.

Why is this example so important?

Unless you regularly treat people who have sickle cell disease, it’s difficult to understand their specific needs. Clinical teams need to understand the underlying issues that are relevant to each person. And it’s key that everyone has the same quality of care and access to treatment.

It can be difficult for someone with less nursing experience to respond effectively to people with this illness. Pain often leads to heightened emotions. It’s a way of coping and is different for each person. So as health and care professionals, we need to see people as individuals, and in this case not just sickle cell patients. That’s what we emphasise to nursing students. Person-centred care is vital.

Believe it or not, health and care professionals don’t know everything. In this scenario, Naomi took the time to understand Joseph’s situation so she could care for him accordingly. Everyone is different, so you can’t have tunnel vision. And once people start feeling better, they’ll be more receptive. Naomi and Joseph’s interaction is a clear example of this and the person-centred care really shone through.

How do our SSSA help practice supervisors and assessors in situations like this?

Students have assigned practice supervisors and assessors who support their practice and learning. When a student enters a specialty like haematology, we’ll brief them at the beginning of their placement. We’ll tell them about the people they’ll care for and the main points they should consider. Students will meet people who are undergoing all types and levels of treatment, and are at various stages of their journey. It’s important that they understand how they can provide safe care for different people.

We make sure students are clear about what they’re trying to achieve during their placement, and what we can do to support them. This includes having experienced practice supervisors and team members to guide them on a daily basis.

It’s useful to spend time with students, go through the detail of people they’ll be caring for that day, and explain their individual needs. This is particularly important when caring for people with sickle cell. You almost need to predict how the day will be for each person. I find this approach very effective. Students are more engaged when they understand the reasons behind a care regime. Otherwise they’re just following instructions and don’t really learn.

Practice supervisors draw knowledge out of their students. Instead of giving them the answers, we ask them questions. We encourage students to make clinical judgements and expand on their findings. It’s about helping them to make sense of what they see and experience. This can be really empowering and make students feel like part of the team.

It’s also important to take a bit of time at the end of each shift to recap with students about their day. No questions are bad questions. It’s useful to acknowledge any mistakes because these are the stepping stones to learning. But also recognise their achievements and progress!

Did you enjoy working with us on this piece of work?

I thoroughly enjoyed working on this scenario. Not every student will come into contact with someone who has sickle cell disease. It’s really important to create resources so that they also know what’s involved with caring for people with this condition. And to understand that person-centred care is key. There’s an individual behind the diagnosis.

Collaborative working is so important. It was the first time I’ve worked on a project like this, but NMC colleagues were really supportive. I’m really pleased to see the final product on the NMC website. I hope it’s helpful!

What else can I expect when I read this nursing newsletter?

You’ll also find the latest news about our temporary register, the current pressures on the nursing community and how to keep safe under these difficult circumstances. There are also updates on our mid-year data report, the nurses celebrated in the New Year Honours list, our social media guidance for professionals and more.

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