Innovation in nursing leadership strengthens COVID-19 response

Building resilience, easing fatigue, improving workflows and strengthening working relationships are just some of the benefits of an innovative initiative developed and implemented by the nursing leadership in South Australia’s dedicated COVID-19 inpatient ward.

Nursing during the pandemic has required new approaches to the way care is provided. An improvement initiative now embedded into the workflow of Royal Adelaide Hospital’s 6GW3 wards has

6GW3 is a unique unit made up of multiple specialty teams including Infectious Diseases, Endocrinology, Palliative Care as well as a cohort ward for Medical Tracheostomies and patient’s requiring negative pressure rooms for various diseases.

It is was also the dedicated COVID-19 inpatient ward for South Australia prior to the Omicron surge.

The specialised unit houses multiple teams on the ward simultaneously, often upwards of 10 at any given time.

For this reason, huddles had been difficult to manage, making up-to-date communication between staff and multi-disciplinary teams extremely difficult and time consuming.

6G leadership were also concerned about staff burnout (mental, emotional and physical) from the ongoing toll of COVID-19, combined with a lack of unity and sense of teamwork.

To mitigate these challenges, the 6G leadership team implemented a new “STOP…DROP…CHECK-IN” initiative, featuring twice daily huddles.

The purpose of the huddles was to firstly check on the wellbeing of staff, particularly staff new to the ICU/COVID-19 environment of the ward, including graduates, agency or transferred staff.

The huddle also provided a forum to share information about the status of the acute patients on the ward. Staff were encouraged to update the team about those patients acutely unwell or at risk of deteriorating, helping to facilitate a prompt reaction time to a nurse assist bell.

Lastly, meal breaks and meal relief times were organised and communicated to allow improved utilisation of double staff time for training, upskilling and education purposes.

Nurse Unit Manager Alice (pictured) said the new huddles have been successful in a variety of ways.

“As a whole staff are happier and more content. We have worked to rebuild resilience, ease fatigue, improve workflows and strengthen working relationships to provide optimal patient care. This empowers staff and supports them to own their space within the team.

“We are the Infectious Diseases Unit. We speak about the word unit, and what that means to us on 6GG. We are united, we come together every day and spend more time with one another than we do with our own families.

Results of a post-implementation review showed 85 per cent of people surveyed felt that “Stop…Drop…Check-in” promoted a positive culture of teamwork leading to staff feeling more supported during their shift. All respondents surveyed reported the check-in to be beneficial and wished to continue with it.