Involving service users in education to enhance the communication, interpersonal, assessment and handover skills of nursing students in practice

Authors: Baron, S.

Conference: Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing: Leadership in nursing Scholarship, Practice and Education: how to impact nursing as a caring profession globally

Dates: 6-8 June 2016

Place of Publication:


Background This presentation will introduce an innovative teaching and learning strategy (TLS) which has involved service users (SUs) and service providers as well as academics and final year nursing students in its design and delivery.

The idea for the TLS, which comprises a simulated nursing admission assessment and handover, was initially inspired by findings from an action research study (Baron, 2009, Baron 2014 unpublished). It has also been influenced by a global movement, led by patient advocates, healthcare professionals, academics, researchers and politicians, which has repeatedly emphasised the importance of person-centred, safe and effective care and collaborative, interdisciplinary teamwork to positive patient experiences and outcomes. The evidence provided by these sources have strongly emphasised the significance of nurses’ communication and interpersonal skills to patient assessment and handover and individualised, safe and effective healthcare. They have also demonstrated the power of the voice of those with first-hand experience towards learning and service improvement. This TLS and the corresponding Therapeutic Communication in Adult Nursing unit within which these activities are situated, are aligned with the principles and philosophies of patient-(person)-centred, humanised care, constructivism and experiential and transformative learning theories.

Aim/Goal To enhance the communication, interpersonal, assessment and handover skills of 2nd year nursing students and support the delivery of person-centred, safe and effective care in practice.

Implementation A two-part teaching and learning strategy designed to enhance student understanding of the importance of hearing the SU’s voice and placing the person at the centre of care. This is promoted and encouraged by enabling students to apply theoretical learning to simulated practice, without risk to patient or self in a supportive learning environment. Academics, SUs, practice colleagues and final year students work together to deliver this innovative learning activity to all 2nd year nursing students on the concluding day of a six week Therapeutic Communication in Adult Nursing unit. This is embedded in our BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing programme. Result To date approximately 200 adult nursing students have participated in this TLS which will continue to be offered in 2016. It has been positively evaluated by students, 97% of whom agreed or strongly agreed that the simulation activities had positively contributed to their learning. It has also been positively evaluated by service users, practice partners, final year student and academics. For example a service user commented: • “This practical exercise for the students is an excellent way of helping them to develop the skills needed for assessment and handover. It was a privilege for me to take part in this…” A final year student commented: • “Feedback from the service users and the staff after the simulation assessment and handover allowed for students to reflect on how they performed ...this was extremely beneficial”, and A practice partner commented: • “Real life problems were raised e.g. not knowing the drugs patients spoke about. Lots of discussions about practice as a result.”

Clinical relevance This TLS is highly relevant to the development of nursing practice as the content and feedback indicate. It enables students to apply and relate theoretical and empirical knowledge gained through studies in the corresponding unit to simulated, safe practice.

Conclusion Despite its limitations, which include being resource and time intensive, to date these have been outweighed by perceptions of its potential to positively impact on future nursing and wider health professional practice. For instance, since the first implementation in early 2015, elements of this TLS have been adapted and implemented in another undergraduate professional programme, and wider interest in this TLS appears to be snowballing.

Source: Manual