Reflective accounts

Service evaluation

A CPD article improved Irene Gilsenan’s knowledge of service evaluation and its importance for nursing practice.

A CPD article improved Irene Gilsenan’s knowledge of service evaluation and its importance for nursing practice

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

The article outlined how nurses could undertake service evaluation projects to examine issues in clinical practice. It explained how service evaluations differ from clinical audits and research activities, and discussed the elements of effective practice when undertaking such projects. 

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

Service evaluations are an essential part of healthcare that can be undertaken by nurses and other members of staff. They can support nurses to examine what they are doing and how they are doing it, and to plan future service improvements. 

I learned that evaluation is part of the cycle associated with clinical effectiveness, since if a service undergoes any developments, the next logical step is to evaluate their effects, and then to determine whether the service requires any further improvements.  

The article outlined the elements of effective practice when undertaking a service evaluation, such as planning, ethical approval, garnering the expertise and support of all stakeholders, and registering the project within the organisation in which it is based. Registration ensures that the project leads gain valuable support from their organisation, and that the organisation knows what to expect from the evaluation. 

How did you change or improve your practice?

I often assist staff to differentiate whether their project is research, a clinical audit or a service evaluation, using one of the toolkits the article cited, which was developed in the trust where I work. The toolkit’s plain-English approach can support members of staff who are interested in improving aspects of clinical practice to develop their ideas into a meaningful project. 

Nurses are among the best-placed members of staff to identify clinical issues when they arise, and often have the skills to investigate further. The information in the article reinforced these skills and may provide nurses with the confidence to take the lead on future service evaluation projects.

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 Code theme of practising effectively, which states that nurses must work with colleagues to evaluate the quality of their work and that of their team. The article supports nurses to work with other members of staff in healthcare and to have hands-on involvement in evidence-based practice.

Nurses could use the information in the article to instigate a service evaluation project in their local area, examining issues that are important to their patients and improving practice, in accordance with the themes of prioritising people and practising effectively. 

Irene Gilsenan is a practice development coordinator (evidence-based practice) at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield

This reflective account is based on NS891 Moule P, Armoogum J, Douglass E et al (2017) Evaluation and its importance for nursing practice. Nursing Standard. 31, 35, 55-62 

Write your own reflective account

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