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Rosemary Cook - What do patients think of you as a nurse?

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Do you know what your patients think of your service? Do you know what they think of you as a nurse?

They will have a view. It is easy to think that people's individual encounters, especially for routine care, don't really register much with them. They come, they get a vaccination, or a pill prescription, or advice on a child's spots, and they go away again.

But every time, every one of them is making a judgement about you as a nurse or health visitor or midwife; and about nursing, health visiting or midwifery. Don't we all form our views about people who work in the retail sector from our brief encounter at the tills, or the reaction of the person we ask to help find the beetroot?

For the Queen Nursing Institute's new report, Nursing People at Home, we sought out information on patients' views of community-based nursing. There was little structured to find. There is a national survey of hospital inpatients. There is a national survey about care provided in general practice. But there is no equivalent for people in the very vulnerable position of needing nursing care in their own home. When you consider the complexity, acuity and cost of this (90 per cent) of healthcare that is delivered outside of hospital walls, it seems increasingly odd that we don't try to find out how people are cared for at home.

For our report, we gave people who have received nursing at home, or who have observed it as carers or family members of patients, the chance to tell us what their care was like. We received hundreds of stories via our Right Nurse, Right Skills campaign website. Hundreds more completed a survey, brokered for us by patients' organisations. And we looked up several local reviews of home nursing services published by PCTs, to their credit, on their websites.

One of the incidental recommendations of our report is that a national survey of patients who have received care at home is instituted, to give a bigger, more robust picture. In the meantime, look around at your own area of practice. Do you know what your patients think of you?

  • Rosemary Cook, director, Queen's Nursing Institute

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