Critical Care program launches standardized patient bedside handovers

News / Patient Care / Critical Care
By Meaghan Quinn

New initiative will benefit patients, families and staff

KHSC's Critical Care Program is embracing a new way of helping to deliver patient- and family-centred care. As of this month, nurses in the program are carrying out standardized patient bedside handovers. 

 “We hear from our families and patients that they want to be more involved with their care planning and the standardized bedside handover is an effective way for them to stay closely connected with their care team,” says Christina Panopoulos-Rowe, Program Manager for Davies 4 ICU on our KGH site. “The new standardized process has patient and family-centred care principles embedded within it and it also creates quality and safety benefits.”

A recent survey of 140 nurses in the unit also revealed opportunities for improvement with the existing bedside handover. Now, critical care nurses do their care transitions right at the patient’s bedside, which provides an opportunity for the patient and family to be given information that they need to make decisions and support their own care. It also provides an opportunity for the patient or family to ask questions or confirm that the care information being shared during handover is correct.

“As a patient or family member, we want communication from staff and need to know what is happening with our care so it isn’t such an intimidating and scary process,” says Donna Perrin, a Patient Experience Advisor with the Critical Care program. “This is an ideal step towards further collaboration between staff and families and a way to see the patients and families as allies in care planning.” 

In addition to helping build trust and a better partnership, bedside handovers have been shown to have positive impact on a patient’s overall care experience.

“This is an evidence-based best practice,” says Panopoulos-Rowe. “Through our research, we found that standardized bedside handovers have been shown to reduce falls, skin breakdown and clinical events. It has also been demonstrated to improve nursing satisfaction scores.” 

A benefit to staff for standardizing bedside handovers is that it helps make the nurses work more visible and provides an opportunity for social bonding, coaching and teaching between the nurse and patient. 

“Through this initiative staff will get to know the patient and think of them as a person, not a disease or a bed,” says Perrin. “It will also help patients understand and support the work that the staff undertake on their behalf.”  

Patient bedside handover isn’t a new practice at KGH. What makes the Critical Care program an ideal place to begin this standardization though is its unique position of having one category of nurse per patient assignment. Over the next few weeks, regular staff feedback will be sought to help make this implementation a success.