11th August 2020
Jo Plush, Practice Development Nurse (PDN) for systemic anti-cancer therapy, has a national role supporting quality and safety standards across Healthcare at Home’s cancer care teams. Here she discusses the importance of the PDNs’ work.
With around 9 years under my belt as a specialist chemotherapy nurse with Healthcare at Home, I was delighted to take up a new challenge 18 months ago, becoming a systemic anti-cancer therapy Practice Development Nurse.
The PDN role focuses on teaching, skills development and quality assurance, and making sure our teams deliver to consistently high standards by promoting best practice and ensuring everyone follows our agreed pathways.
PDNs are there to help staff enhance their skills and develop new ones and we also act as role models by keeping our own skills up to date as expert practitioners, so that when we support nurses in clinical practice they can learn from us. We’re also there to ensure that the chemotherapy nurses feel supported in the field as they are autonomous practitioners. They can call us to trouble shoot, to talk something through or if they just want to talk if they have had a tough day.
Consistency is crucial for patient confidence
Part of our role is to ensure standardisation of treatment, in part to uphold standards, but also to reassure our patients about the high quality of their care.
Patients will most likely receive treatment from more than one nurse over time, but we do try to ensure they get to see no more than 3 nurses during their treatment. If one nurse sets up the treatment in a certain way then on the next visit another nurse works slightly differently, for example, the change could worry the patient, and even though both practices will always be correct and safe, we want to ensure the patient is not worried by this. By ensuring that our teams carry out treatments in the same ways – using our standard policies and procedures – our patients know exactly what to expect each time.
It’s this consistency of treatment and high-quality care that gives our patients confidence in our team, and the reassurance that whichever nurse visits, they will receive the same high quality service. In fact, patients often feedback on how happy they are with our teams’ service and professionalism.
As well as providing treatments to patients, our nurses are trained in using the iQemo online platform to communicate with consultants, so that they can be confident they have all the information they need in terms of the patient’s condition.
Maintaining and growing our team’s skills
It’s crucial for Healthcare at Home that we maintain our high quality and safety standards, to ensure we have a registered workforce of highly qualified nurses. As part of the PDN role we monitor quality performance and sign off that each individual nurse has the right competencies to carry out their role to the required standards.
This quality assurance means that both patients and the consultants who refer people into our services can feel confident and be reassured that we have the systems in place to ensure all our nurses are trained to the same high standards.
As well as one-to-one training in the field, I also run the mandatory annual SACT updates, which are held once a month to ensure that our SACT nurses remain competent. These involve updates, training and scenario management, and although usually held at Head Office, more recently the training has been carried out virtually online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Supporting our colleagues’ experience to ensure the best care
I took on the PDN role as I liked the idea of teaching and making the most of my years of experience, and I see a similar drive in my colleagues across the organisation. It’s always great to see everyone enjoying the learning. Healthcare at Home is a great company to work for as they see how important training and development is.
When I worked as a chemotherapy nurse my patch covered a narrow pathway up from Southampton to Oxford and I had a number of patients that I knew well, so I do enjoy shadowing the nurses on occasion and maintaining that patient contact. All our nurses are linked to a team and can call on support over the phone at any time. In addition, I believe that as PDNs we advocate for our nurses, making sure they know that we are there for them in addition to their line manager to help them deliver the best care, while themselves enjoying the experience of nursing.
I’m very passionate about my role, and hope that the support of PDNs allows our teams to consistently deliver the very best care, every time.
For more information about our cancer services, please email email@example.com