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Beyond the basics: how the role of nursing staff goes beyond the patient

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Nurses have to support families as well as patient Nurses have to support families as well as patients

The perception that the job of nursing staff is just to care for the patient is certainly incorrect. These days, professionals face greater pressure to do much more than this, from caring for and supporting family members, providing consultative advice to peers, through to driving best practice standards. But what impact have these changing demands had on the skills requirements of these vital healthcare professionals?

Caring for family members

Perhaps the biggest impact of this demand has been the need to provide support for the close family, and in some cases friends, of the patient. As nurses are treating individuals, they may face queries from those related to the person, particularly if access to a GP is difficult. There is a perception that it is easier to get an appointment with a nurse than a doctor, and many people will wait until they are in front of a nurse to pose questions.

As such, nurses now need to be much more comfortable with not only providing the required advice and support for family members, but also educating them on the effects of the illness or injury on the patient. In essence, nurses are increasingly being tasked with teaching close family members what the impact of the patient's situation will be on both the individual and the wider family.

Driving best practice standards

Greater collaboration with other healthcare institutions is also becoming a bigger part of the nursing remit. This is particularly the case given the role of nurses in CCGs in the UK. With CCGs requiring input from healthcare professionals, including individuals to fill the clinical member registered nurse (CMRN) position, nurses have the opportunity to play a greater role in driving best practice standards in healthcare.

Becoming a CMRN will, for many, be a great career move, but it requires the development of a more leadership orientated skills set. In effect, nurses need to operate at a more executive level, demonstrate leadership skills and be confident establishing credibility with stakeholders and partners.

Peer-to-peer consulting

Nurses are also increasingly looking to network more with peers for both the benefit of patient care through further development of their nursing skills, and to seek and offer support. It can't be forgotten that the role can be very demanding on any individual and being able to turn to like-minded professionals will be beneficial.

The role of the nurse is certainly a rewarding one. However, as more demand is placed on them to go above and beyond the norm, skills requirements are likely to become more and more complex and challenging.

Susan Fragniere, lead homecare nurse at Team24

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