Survey to assess standard of nursing care

17:00, Aug 13 2014

Patients will rate their experience at Waikato Hospital as part of an initiative to improve nursing care.

Hospital nurse managers will ask five patients from 25 wards a series of questions to gauge their overall priorities and level of satisfaction.

The survey will be conducted twice a year with the plan to include mental health wards next and in 2015 expand to incorporate outpatient services.

Waikato District Health Board clinical nurse director Cheryl Atherfold said the Care Essentials programme wanted to focus on delivering patients' expectations.

"We wanted to have a perspective that meant we could act prior to a complaint," she said.

The initiative asks patients about whether they are satisfied with the communication regarding their care, co-ordination of services, partnerships and emotional and physical needs. Atherfold said the surveys had helped staff understand patient values.


"The complexity of care that we deliver is of a higher acuity . . . but what we know is that patients want to feel listened to and they want their families included in decisions."

In yesterday's Health Waikato Committee meeting, several members toured a ward to see how the survey was carried out. The committee said it was concerned about the potential for results to be biased.

However Atherfold said auditors were prohibited from surveying wards they frequently worked on. Committee member Ken Price asked project co-ordinators how they ensured the sample was random, particularly in reference to age and ethnicity.

Atherfold recognised it was often hard to guarantee the diversity of their sample, but the study was "qualitative rather than quantitative."

"It is quite organic and not biased in its structure but sometimes it can be difficult to access patients because they are off at treatments or having tests or just too sick."

Committee member Robyn Kios remained "cynical" of the project and suggested reports be scrutinised.

"It is interesting that the nursing staff have taken up this idea, when it really should be multifaceted," she said.

"we know from the past these audits often do not pick up very serious things going on."

But the project, a joint initiative between the Waikato Nursing Directorate and Quality and Safety Directorate, has already identified several areas for improvement.

A graph showed simple measures like uninterrupted meal times were precious to patients. 

Waikato Times