Demands on the NHS have grown significantly since it was created in 1948, with an aging population, technological developments and advanced treatment techniques transforming the service. The role of the nurse has continually evolved too, but up until recently their workspaces hadn’t changed all that much.
In fact, few people consider that behind the scenes of many hospitals there are nurses and administrative staff doing important work away from the eyes of patients. There are calls to answer, schedules to organise, mandatory training modules arrange and important discussions about patient care between professionals. While clinical spaces continue to be modernised, there’s often much less thought and investment put into the equally-important non-clinical areas.
The majority of the work our community nursing services do with patients takes place in patients’ homes and thanks to our investment in mobile working technology, the need for an office to complete administration tasks is almost a distant memory. The 21st century workspace for community nursing is all about space, personalisation and – most importantly – collaboration.
That’s why in 2014 Virgin Care launched the Community Nurse Improvement Programme (CNIP). The aim was simple: to bring community nursing into the 21st century – and that included a whole new take on the workspace to meet their more modest, modern needs.
CNIP was designed around putting the nurses themselves in charge of developing new ways of working, and the spaces they needed for it to work. Clinical leads worked with frontline nurses to come up with the blueprint for the perfect workspace and then gave them two rooms to transform.
They took them back to basics with a fresh paint job and then set about bringing them some focus. No longer did the room need to serve as a break room, call centre and office all in one – now the space could be focused on collaboration and getting work done in a personalised, comfortable place.
While it’s a small change to many people, the staple of the NHS office with desks facing towards the wall around the room just wasn’t working for the nurses and by bringing in a single big table the nursing team created an open, clean collaborative space where they could talk easily about their patients’ treatment.
After years constricted by the NHS’s decorative style we gave nurses the freedom to cover the walls in things that meant something to them, from artwork and inspirational plaques to gifts and thank you cards from patients. They even named one of the rooms ‘The Sugar Shack’, a place where they can have some much-needed refreshment.
The 21st century workspace for community nursing is about providing the equipment the nurses need, and the space to get the job done efficiently and with the bare minimum of distractions. This means no phones or fax machines which create interruptions. Interruptions waste money for the NHS and frustrate the nursing team. In tailoring the new rooms to their needs the nursing team has created a dedicated quiet space which lets them work interruption-free and collaborate with their colleagues to provide the best possible care for patients.
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