Nurses are always looking for ways to help care for their patients and a research program will give them the support they need.
Senior lecturer from the Wollongong University's School of Nursing, Dr Jenny Sim, is leading a project which will help nurses care for us - their patients.
Her research, broadly speaking, is about measuring the quality and safely outcomes of nursing care.
The quality of care research is from the patients’ perspective and also from clinical outcomes.
She said historically there was no way measuring the quality of care.
“There was no comprehensive way of measuring nursing care and so my PHD project tried to fix that,” Dr Sim said.
“So we came up with a comprehensive indicator set that nurses and hospitals can use to measure the outcomes of the nursing care.”
A group of private hospitals have been involved in the project and data has been collected from them.
The information is then given back to the ward nurses in a format that is useful to them.
They got a huge amount of useful data over an 18-month period.
“We now have the ability to expand it to other hospitals and try to implement it and that is what we are doing,” Dr Sim said.
Data is collected on a range of things like structure, how many nurses there are, what the skill mix is, how many patients there are, how quickly they (patients) come and go, data on outcomes and what the patients think about the nursing staff from a satisfaction or an experience perspective.
“They (patients) are pretty impressed generally with the care” Dr Sim said.
They have data on many falls there has been or if there has been pressure injuries, medication errors and a whole range of safety things as well.
“One hospital had a higher pressure rate injuries than they wanted and evidence based strategies were put in place, using the research data, and the hospital got help to improve its outcomes,” Dr Sim said.
“I think anything we can do improve patient outcome makes nurses feel happy.”
Dr Sim leads the project called Australian Nursing Outcomes Collaborative with help from Professor Patrick Crookes, Dr Joanne Joyce McCoach and Dr Rob Gordon.
She recently got the chance to speak at the Australian College of Nursing’s National Nursing Forum which had a ‘’make change happen for the benefit of patients’ theme.
“As a researcher it’s a great thing to be able to present your research,” Dr Sim said.
She was happy with the response and many people were interested in the research and three large organisations were also interested in taking part.
“We will see how it goes over time but we are hoping we can expand the work and we can try and improve outcomes for patients across the state and the country,” she said.
Nursing has been part of Dr Sim’s life and career for over 26 years.
She worked as a clinical nurse and as a manager, was trained and worked in Sydney.
Close to 20-years-ago she came to the Shoalhaven was Nurse Unit Manager at the intensive care unit for several years and then worked at David Berry and was director of nursing for three years.
Dr Sim, 10-years-ago, started working for the university as an academic teaching undergraduate nursing students.
She got into nursing because she wanted to look after people.
“I wanted to help people when they were at their time of need,” she said.
“Certainly not wanting to change the world but definitely wanting to help people.
“I love being a nurse I think it’s a most amazing profession.”
She made the switch to the academic world and one of the reasons was to help the next batch of nurses and she also wanted to do some research.
“I decided to wanted to try and measure the outcomes of nursing care because as a manager I did not have the tools I needed to do that successfully and so I started a PHD and that led to the academic world,” she said.
Dr Sim said if people wanted a rewarding career then they should consider nursing.