The cover of Nursing Times this week declares helpfully and positively that nursing is not broken. Stressed on several fronts clearly, but not broken. The feature explores the contribution that skill mix makes to nursing practice, quality and outcomes.
With the past day of industrial action and the economic climate you hear repeated commentators extolling the need for and benefits of investment in services be that: health and social care, house and road building, high speed rail, green energy, ...
The economy is often described as an engine. The knowledge and skills of the workforce (and students) help fuel prosperity through creativity, innovation and ultimately productivity.
As the looming winter settles in - I start to think about vests. The wooliest I can find.* You wonder to what extent the in-vest-ment in skill mix on the wards and other clinical encounters are oriented towards tasks, activity and how much that skill mix has the necessary redundancy in place to afford high-quality patient education and person-centered care? You see we need to revest patients and the public at large with the knowledge and self-efficacy to keep well and stay well.
Economies that rely on two cylinder engines are usually considered as a bit behind the times. Noise. Pollution. Waste. How many cylinders do our health care systems run on?
One poorly machined cylinder with CURE at one end and PREVENTION at the other. So, the irony. We need a two-cylinder engine not just in health and social care, but people's lives. What a dream machine that would be. Is there a conceptual prototype out there...? You hope that Local Authority changes can refactor the engine, because looking at re-admissions (Milne and Clarke, 1990; Dowler, 2011) a radical redesign is greatly needed.
The truth is that as things stand (and the masses sit) this isn't enough.
(Interesting to note that apparently some 'one-cylinder' designs actually depend on two operations that overlap.)
Milne, R., Clarke, A. (1990) Can readmission rates be used as an outcome indicator? BMJ, 301, 17 NOV. 1139-4.
Dowler, C., (2011) Penalties fail to cut readmission rate, HSJ, 24, 11, 11, 4-5.