A new project has been launched to design a new best practice model of nursing care for Covid-19 patients based on the most effective innovations of UK nurses so far during the pandemic.
The “COVID-NURSE” study has been granted £430,000 in government funding to develop and trial a standardised system of nursing protocol and procedures for patients admitted to hospital with the virus.
“This study will help us establish what has proved effective, so that innovations that benefit patients can be rolled out”
The programme will be led by a team of scientises and nurses at the University of Exeter supported by a consortium of other universities as well as NHS trusts.
In the wake of the outbreak of the novel virus, nurses and other clinicians were forced to rapidly adjust their ways of working and overcome new challenges to delivering care.
Highlighting one example, the researchers noted how some nurses had helped break down communication barriers with their patients that were caused by their personal protective equipment by attaching a picture of themselves to their uniforms.
The study will see the team analyse the impact on patient experience of a defined series of such nursing innovations.
They will then use their findings to develop a best practice model of nursing care that they hope will be used nationally and internationally.
The model will be tested across 18 NHS trust sites in the UK as part of a randomised controlled trial called a ‘rapid-cycle’ trial.
The trial will assess the impact of the model on patient experience, care quality, patients’ ability to manage day-to-day activities, treatment outcomes and costs.
Professor David Richards, professor of health services research at the University of Exeter and a nurse, is leading the study, which is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
He said: “Nurses are critical to patient experience and care.
“Nurses help people with eating, drinking, going to the toilet, skin care, moving, keeping clean, breathing, communication and mental wellbeing.
“We know many nurses have risen to the complex challenges of caring for people with Covid-19 in innovative ways.
“This study will help us establish what has proved effective, so that innovations that benefit patients can be rolled out.”
The team would ensure the nursing procedures developed were “acceptable and realistic for rapid NHS implementation, providing guidance and education materials”, he added.
“Having a new and specific protocol for nursing will mean we can all work across the UK to the same high standards”
They would also make sure the model could be adapted to be used in care homes, for patients with other conditions requiring isolation and to other health systems around the globe.
Among the trusts involved in the study is the Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust whose staff redesigned areas of the respiratory ward to accommodate greater amounts of oxygen required by Covid-19 patients.
Clinical nurse manager at the trust, Clare Bakere, said the team “really welcome” the new Covid-nurse trial.
“We need to know what really works for patients. Having a new and specific protocol for nursing will mean we can all work across the UK to the same high standards,” she said.
Other organisations involved in the study include the universities of Leicester, Nottingham, Southampton and King’s College London.
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) South West Peninsula are also taking part.