Reflective accounts

Effective handovers

A CPD article improved Linda Thorley’s knowledge of the importance of nursing handovers and clear communication
Handovers

A CPD article improved Linda Thorleys knowledge of the importance of nursing handovers and clear communication

What was the nature of the CPD activity, practice-related feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The article explored the role of handovers in healthcare settings, including the various types and functions, the structured frameworks that can be used, and the potential effects of an ineffective handover.

What did you learn from the CPD activity, feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The article defined a handover as the transfer of professional responsibility and accountability for some or all aspects of care for a patient or a group of patients, to another or professional group on a temporary or permanent basis. I learned that the primary function of a handover is to provide continuity of care by sharing information with

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A CPD article improved Linda Thorley’s knowledge of the importance of nursing handovers and clear communication


Picture: John Houlihan

What was the nature of the CPD activity, practice-related feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The article explored the role of handovers in healthcare settings, including the various types and functions, the structured frameworks that can be used, and the potential effects of an ineffective handover. 

What did you learn from the CPD activity, feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The article defined a handover as the transfer of professional responsibility and accountability for some or all aspects of care for a patient or a group of patients, to another or professional group on a temporary or permanent basis. I learned that the primary function of a handover is to provide continuity of care by sharing information with other healthcare professionals. 

The article stated that handovers in healthcare settings are traditionally a verbal report; however, this can sometimes result in loss of information. Using a verbal handover in combination with written instructions or a care plan can improve the retention of information. However, staff must ensure patient confidentiality is not breached, for example by leaving written information in a public area.

Handovers usually take place in a private, non-clinical environment, such as the nurses’ office. This provides patient confidentiality, minimises interruptions and enables sensitive information to be passed on. Handovers are sometimes performed at the patient’s bedside, which supports person-centred care and patient involvement in decision-making. 

How did you change or improve your practice?

In the care home where I practise, handovers are always verbal and take place in the nurses’ office; however, this relies on additional staff being on duty while the handover takes place. 

The article emphasised that communication is the most important aspect of an effective handover, and that it is important to foster a positive environment in which conversations can take place. Therefore, I will educate my colleagues in not using jargon, so that everyone understands the information and can participate in the handover. 

How is this relevant to the Code? Select one or more themes: Prioritise people, Practise effectively, Preserve safety, Promote professionalism and trust

The article was relevant to the theme of practising effectively, which emphasises that nurses must communicate clearly and work cooperatively. 

Effective handovers ensure that the information being communicated is accurate and complete, so that errors, omissions and adverse events can be avoided and continuity of care extends into the next shift.

Handovers also assist nurses to ensure that care or treatment provided to an individual is compatible with any other care or treatment they are receiving, in accordance with The Code theme of preserving safety.

Linda Thorley is a deputy nurse manager at Rock Cottage Care Home, Staffordshire


This reflective account is based on NS901 Ballantyne H (2017) Undertaking effective handovers in the healthcare setting. Nursing Standard. 31, 45, 53-61 

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