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Readers panel: Should nurse handovers take place at the patient’s bedside?

Bedside handovers allow patients to be more involved in their care and improve their rapport with staff, supporters claim. Nursing Standard readers have their say.
bedside

Bedside handovers allow patients to be more involved in their care and improve their rapport with staff, supporters claim. Nursing Standard readers have their say

Daniel Athey is a charge nurse on an acute medical ward in Sheffield

Bedside handovers are like so many other nursing initiatives, something that is good on paper. I'm sure countless managers have made lovely PowerPoint presentations on the many merits. However, if its such a good idea, would it not happen organically anyway?

A similar initiative is being rolled out in my trust, and while my role requires I put a brave face on it, I quite honestly detest it. My handover is consistently interrupted by patients and relatives and I can only give about half the relevant information. The real handover happens

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Bedside handovers allow patients to be more involved in their care and improve their rapport with staff, supporters claim. Nursing Standard readers have their say

 

bedside
 Opinion is divided over bedside handovers.   Picture: Getty Images

Daniel Athey is a charge nurse on an acute medical ward in Sheffield

Bedside handovers are like so many other nursing initiatives, something that is good on paper. I'm sure countless managers have made lovely PowerPoint presentations on the many merits. However, if it’s such a good idea, would it not happen organically anyway?

A similar initiative is being rolled out in my trust, and while my role requires I put a brave face on it, I quite honestly detest it. My handover is consistently interrupted by patients and relatives and I can only give about half the relevant information. The real handover happens after the smiley charade of bedside handover. In the office staff can openly talk about bowel habits, progression of cancers and which patients have been 'a challenge' over the past 12 hours.

Liz Charalambous is a staff nurse

While in favour of any system that streamlines good communication in healthcare, I remain hesitant. The impact of all methods of handover is unclear, and some specialties may not be suitable for this type of handover. Any system is only as good as those who implement it. Done well, the patient is at the centre of the communication process and included in decision making. Done poorly, it could be another tick-box exercise. Further research needs to be done in order to ascertain the impact of this approach before a large-scale implementation of bedside handovers across all areas.

Duncan Hamilton is an adult nursing student at the University of Surrey

As a student I’ve experienced office-based and bedside handovers. Handovers can be complex, encoded in technical language. While it’s possible to translate, that language has evolved to allow valuable shortcuts to sharing knowledge. Equally, I’ve seen nurses often find it necessary to speak bluntly to make a point about patient care, which cannot happen at the bedside.
With office handovers I see nurses spending time with patients, introducing themselves, discussing previous care and goals for the day, as their first task following handover. Appropriate language can then be adopted to suit each context, based on nurses’ individual, autonomous clinical judgement.

Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London

Including patients in the handover between shifts would reduce missed information, help increase patient contact and ensure they feel more included in their care and treatment. It would reduce time staff are away in the handover room and deliver better care. Bedside computers allow quick access to notes and for them to be updated while allowing staff to continue to talk to patients. However, I can think of a few areas where this might not be so effective, such as inpatient mental health wards where patients aren’t confined to a bed or bay. The use of iPads and tablets could perhaps allow greater interaction with patients when doing notes.

Readers panel members give their views in a personal capacity only

 

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