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A new generation of nurse leaders - King’s College London Older Person’s Nurse Fellowship Programme

The older person’s nurse fellowship (OPNF) is a unique higher level education programme delivered by Kings College London (KCL) and funded by Health Education England (HEE). Here, we feature the work and backgrounds of some of the first twenty graduates.

The twelve month programme is designed to develop clinical knowledge, quality improvement skills and innovation capacity of senior clinical nurses working in older people’s services across England. A core ethos of the OPNF is the development of a dynamic network of older person’s nurse specialist through participation in the course and in collaboration the British Geriatrics Society (BGS) nurse and allied health profession network.

 

To date twenty Fellows have participated in the programme and a further thirty-seven Fellows joined in January 2016. The course brings together senior clinical nurses from all England regions.  Fellows are selected to represent diverse care settings including acute care hospitals, community, primary care, mental health (acute and community)  and social care. Peer-to-peer learning and sharing good practice from different regions and settings is as important as the formal curriculum. The course entails one face-to-face study day per month, on-line learning, webinars and on-line discussion. Key lectures and screencasts have been delivered by leading clinicians and BGS members including Professor David Oliver, Professor Finbarr Martin, Helen Lyndon,  Dr Caroline Nicholson and Frazer Underwood. Fellows are motivated and self-directed in their learning with each Fellow bringing unique experiences and skills.

Fellows undertake a clinical case study and a quality improvement project in their own organisation, supported by supervisors from KCL. A diverse range of projects were completed by the first cohort of Fellows including: developing a therapeutic environment in an older adult unit though environmental changes and bespoke staff training resulting in a reduction in incidences of aggression and violence; implementing a holistic assessment model in community care resulting in a reduction in pressure ulcers; implementing depression screening in ED, anticipatory and end of life care planning in a nursing home. Four projects are presented in this issue to demonstrate the broad range and diverse settings addressed. 

The vision for the future is to grow the OPNF network of innovative nurses who can influence the teams they work with and share good practice across the country. Close links with the BGS and its sections, including the Nurses and Allied Health professionals Section, are key to dissemination of innovation and promoting excellence in care and services for older people. It is hoped that an interdisciplinary programme may be developed from the Fellowship, which would further strengthen learning opportunities. This is contingent on future support being identified by HEE or alternative sources. 

Case Study 1: Multidisciplinary pre-operative assessment to empower patient decision making and improve perioperative and post-operative management for older urology patients (Carol Bowler is Lead Nurse, Unplanned Care)

Case Study 2: Initiating frailty screening in primary care to identify high risk older adults for CGA (Anne Williams is an Older Person’s Nurse Specialist, based at Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust)

Case Study 3: Identification and Care of Frail Older People in an Acute Care Trust (Emma Ekins (Spenser) is an Older Person’s Nurse Specialist, based at Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust)

Case Study 4: Quality Improvement to support management of depression in older people residing in care homes (Katie Whitewood, Lead Nurse/ Joint Clinical Lead, The Behaviour and Communication Support Service, South West London and St Georges Mental Health NHS Trust)

Further information about the Older Person’s Nurse Fellowship can be found at  https://www.kcl.ac.uk/nursing/Older-Persons-Nurse-Fellowship/Index.aspx

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