Quality care with compassion

Fri, 15 Feb 2013 13:02:00 GMT

Nursing students praised by Willis Commission

THE University of Huddersfield has been a pioneer of the principle that NHS patients and their carers should be closely involved in the training of nurses, helping to develop the content of courses and ensuring that compassion is a keynote. 

Now this important aspect of nurse education at the University has been highlighted and praised by a major report, which also backs the principle of nursing as an all-graduate profession. 

The Willis Commission – set up by the Royal College of Nursing and headed by ex-MP Lord Willis – was asked to investigate nurse education.  Its report, now issued, is entitled Quality with Compassion. 

The University of Huddersfield is one of the UK’s centres of nurse education, with 600 students undergoing training.  Lord Willis and his team selected it as one of only two English universities to visit during the commission’s fact-finding phase.  He was drawn to Huddersfield because of the University’s pioneering emphasis on training nurses to work in the community. 

One passage in the 55-page report deals with special role played by patients, or service users as they are termed: 

“The University of Huddersfield facilitates ongoing relationships with service users and carers, who are involved in interviews, selection and delivery of the programme.  They engage with students on issues related to the values and the need for dignified and compassionate care.  The engagement of service users and carers in curriculum development showed an open and inclusive approach to partnership, which enriched the programme.”

Service user and carer involvement 

Christine Rhodes, who is Head of Pre-Registration Nursing at the University, guided Lord Willis during his visit. 

“His main focus when he came here was to look at community services and where students go on their community placement,” she said. 

“A main part of his trip to Huddersfield was a tour to one of our large health centres within our placement area, to see students in practice with their mentors.  Lord Willis accompanied a student and district nurse mentor on a visit to a patient and observed how they interacted.  Then he met with other members of the primary health care team and staff at the health centre.  They included students and mentors who had a discussion around the key issues in education and training.” 

Towards the end of his visit Lord Willis met members of the service users and carers forum which has important input into nurse education and training at the University.  Recently, it has been commended by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. 

Christine Rhodes – who is researching for a PhD in the subject – explained that service user and carer involvement have now become a mandatory requirement for nurse education.  The University of Huddersfield has been developing its forum for more than six years and it consists of a core group of ten members with varying experiences of the health service. 

“The fact that Lord Willis commented on the University of Huddersfield forum indicates that he was impressed by what he found,” she added.  

“When he met members of the service user forum, they told him quite clearly how much they had been involved in the development of the new nursing curriculum.” 

Nurses should be graduates 

The Willis Commission report also backs the requirement that nurses should be graduates, finding no evidence that degree level registration was damaging to patient care. 

“On the contrary, graduate nurses have played and will continue to play a key role in driving up standards and preparing a nursing workforce fit for the future,” states the Key Messages section of the report. 

“Lord Willis found no evidence that graduate nurses were ‘too posh to wash’, which is one of the things that is bandied around quite a lot!” said Christine Rhodes.  “Quite clearly the role of nurses is very complex today.  They are often leaders and co-ordinators of care and they need the ability to deliver complex care with skill and compassion.” 

A key reason that Lord Willis selected the University of Huddersfield for a visit was its unique emphasis on preparing nurses to work in the community.  This too led to a passage in the report: 

“Efforts are being made to create good learning experiences outside hospitals.  A collaborative initiative between an HEI and a general practice introduced a link mentorship role to support and develop mentorship in district nursing settings ... the University of Huddersfield is preparing nurses for future community roles through a programme entitled ‘Primary Ambition’, which enables them to major in community placements.”

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