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Nicky Hayes discusses the tools for setting and monitoring safer staffing levels in mental health Safer Staffing on Older Peoples Wards

Nicky HayesNicky Hayes

Nickys presentation addressed the nature of caring for older people in hospital and what is necessary to achieve safe staffing.  It   described the development of the RCN guidance on Safe Staffing for Older People’s wards (2012) and discussed the recommendations and their implementation via the Safe Staffing Toolkit. The RCN Call for Action to improve hospital care for older people will also be introduced.

The RCN guidance sets out thresholds for safe staffing on wards where the majority of patients are older people with complex needs. It recommends that ward managers have supervisory status, have local control of staffing and have access to flexible additional support at times of peak demand. The guidance was developed from a comprehensive range of sources including survey data, focus group and expert opinion, observational and stakeholder consultation during 2011 - 12.  Survey data identified that older people’s wards continue to be understaffed compared with general adult wards, yet the acuity, patient dependency and complexity of case load is high. A typical ward is understaffed at 50:50 skill mix and a total of 6 staff per 28 beds. The guidance identified a threshold of 1:7 RN: patient or 1:3.3 – 3.8 staff: patient, below which care can become compromised. The accompanying toolkit provides a structure for nurses, managers, inspectors or any parties who have an interest in getting hospital care right for older people, to   assess staffing levels and prepare action plans if necessary.

Nicky said "I have concerns over the quality of care for older people. We need to keep the pressure up so it doesn't slip which causes consequences for patients. It's not just about numbers, its about good quality care"

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Download: Nicky Hayes Presentation

17 November 2014

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