First Chief Nursing Officer fellows unveil their research projects

The first five members staff in our NHS Trust to take part in an innovative new programme to support research and practice improvement by nurses, midwives and allied health professionals have presented the findings of their projects.

Three nurses, one midwife and a pharmacist were selected for the new Oxford Hospitals Charity Chief Nursing Officer Fellowship scheme.

Their six-month research projects included analysing waiting times on the maternity assessment unit; improving intravenous nutrition for patients with intestinal failure; managing the risk of moisture-related harm that can lead to pressure ulcers; the impact of patient falls on staff; and updating the questionnaire used for the Trust’s clinical quality assurance scheme.

Fully funded by Oxford Hospitals Charity, the new initiative aims to encourage staff to look at improving patient care through practical and impactful solutions to a number of hospital challenges.

Interim Chief Nursing Officer Paula Gardner said: “The presentation of the fellowship scheme projects was absolutely amazing. It is great to see. Some of it related to basic care – prevention of falls, prevention of pressure ulcers – but seeing the innovation come out through the project plans about how they want to take things forward to improve patient care, experience and safety can only be a way forward for this organisation.”

"We are very grateful to Oxford Hospitals Charity funding this initiative, which supports our strategic aim of increasing research awareness, capability and capacity among our nurses, midwives and allied health professionals, in the knowledge that research-active Trusts have better patient outcomes and are more attractive as an employer."

Douglas Graham, CEO of Oxford Hospitals Charity, which is funding the scheme, said: “It was wonderful to be able to hear the passion and enthusiasm of all the staff involved. 

“These research projects have focused on finding direct benefit and practical improvements for patients in our hospitals – which is the key area for our charity as well, so we are delighted to be able to support this important programme.

Each of the fellows was provided with a mentor and regular access to a senior clinical expert and quality improvement lead. They spent two days a week working on their projects, some of which have already had a tangible impact on patient care.

Aroma Mujahid, a specialist nutrition pharmacist in the intestinal failure service, conducted research into minimising harm in nutrition and raising awareness around malnutrition. She found that patients weren’t receiving enough of the B vitamin thiamine, so putting them at risk of associated conditions, including refeeding syndrome.

“The biggest thing it has done is to raise awareness; a lot of people don’t know what refeeding syndrome is or don’t know the importance of thiamine.” she said.

“This was my first ever research project and it’s made me see that I want to continue doing research – I already know what my next research project will be after doing this.”

Another of the fellows was Rachel Duke, Practice Development Sister in Acute General Medicine. She was studying how to manage the risk of moisture damage, which can increase the chances of pressure-related damage, such as ulcers.

Her work on the fellowship project has already allowed her to take the next step in her career: “I’ve got valuable skills and networking from doing this fellowship, and I’ve developed my understanding of quality improvement (QI) frameworks – and it’s taken me to my next role, working with the QI team because I’ve been able to talk about how we can apply those frameworks to different areas of practice which I wouldn’t have had previously.”

She added: “Nurses, midwives and allied health professionals are the ones delivering hands-on care to patients every day and having an influence on how that care is delivered, so for them to be involved in this kind of research is really key, because they can translate that evidence base into the practice and care there are delivering day in day out.”

This view was echoed by Eniola Dada, of the High Dependency Unit at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, whose project focused on the impact of patient falls on nurses.

She explained: “I applied because I thought that nurses have a lot to give to research. It is difficult to do it as part of your role; there’s a lot you want to do that you don’t have time to do. I particularly liked this idea because it gives you the time – the permission – to focus on those subjects that you know needs focusing on.”

The other fellows were: midwife Tori Fleet, who fellowship project was on how to improve waiting times on the maternity assessment unit. Some of her findings are being incorporated into a new triage system in the unit; and Binnie Samuel, who was looking how to update OUH’s Oxford Scheme for Clinical Accreditation (OxSCA), to make the questionnaire more applicable to the whole clinical team and not just nurses.

Oxford Hospitals Charity provides additional support across Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, creating more comfortable and welcoming spaces for patients of all ages, funding specialist high-tech medical equipment and supporting the wellbeing of hospital staff. The charity also funds specialist research and training to enhance and improve the hospitals - all thanks to the generosity of our amazing donors and fundraisers.

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