As a result of the initial influx of COVID-19 patients in March of 2020, many healthcare facilities partnered with experienced nursing service providers to implement new staffing approaches. These facilities aimed to handle the demand for qualified and trained nursing staff while providing patients with safe and effective care.
With hospitals and other health care facilities now in recovery mode, they are struggling with issues like nursing staff shortages and the need for innovative staffing approaches to maintain a higher standard of patient care. This is where the team nursing model is proving itself a viable solution. Let’s explore what team nursing is, how the model works and how your facility can put implement it.
Why team nursing?
At the height of the pandemic, the unprecedented demand for registered nurses, ward aids, home care nurses and nursing assistants increased alongside the urgency for solutions to help address these shortfalls. Team nursing emerged as a strategy that would address a shortage of qualified staff and improve patient care by delivering it in the most cost-effective way.
The team nursing model may be deemed necessary in settings such as intensive care units that add beds to accommodate more patients. In contrast, the number of critical care nurses often remains the same or decreases due to staff exposure to COVID-19 or infection, rendering them unable to work.
Multiple factors may be contributing to the implementation of team nursing strategies across health care facilities and an overall increase in the demand for nursing services, including but not limited to:
- The global nursing shortage caused by burnout, stress, COVID-19 infection and an ageing nursing workforce
- A lack of qualified and experienced doctors
- An increased number of chronic and acute medical conditions leads to more complex care needs
- Limited hospital budgets and resources in small hospitals and clinics
Home care nurses have also been in high demand due to the above factors. The team model may also be applied to the home care setting where all team members, including the patient and family, work together to ensure the best possible care for the patient.
What is team nursing?
Historically, nurses have been assigned to a single patient, requiring the nurse to provide direct and indirect care for the patient for an extended period. Health care facilities are now operating at maximum capacity or near capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent recovery period. They may struggle to sustain a primary nursing care model in the face of increases in the number of critically ill patients. They must instead find ways to leverage existing critical care expertise to serve greater numbers of patients.
Forward-thinking institutions have resurrected the team-based model from the 1970s to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses’ roles and responsibilities have shifted from direct, hands-on care to having a leader guiding the health care team in caring for patients and managing the care process.
Using a team-based approach to patient care allows for the reallocation of resources previously used to care for less urgent needs, such as those of patients with COVID-19 who are in critical condition. This teamwork approach entails delegating certain aspects of care for critically ill patients to personnel without expertise in critical care so those with such skills can concentrate on patients who need it most.
Team nursing leaders
The ideal candidate for the team leader role in a critical care unit is a seasoned nurse who is well-versed in management and organisation. It must be a person who can think critically about patient care and assignments, with excellent interpersonal skills to delegate tasks effectively and deal with conflicts.
Primary nurse: The primary nurse frequently serves as the team’s second-in-command. The team member can help with medication administration, decision-making and provide backup support for the team leader. Primary care nurses are also responsible for assessing and reassessing patients, implementing care plans and reporting status updates to the team leader and other health professionals.
A primary nurse with less experience is often paired with a more seasoned nurse leader in the operation. This strategy helps the less-experienced nurse learn from the more knowledgeable practitioner and the team leader by sharing some of the load.
The nursing team
Building a productive and skilled nursing team requires the combined efforts of everyone involved. Everyone must commit to working together as a team, from the chief executive officer and hospital administrators to medical personnel. Team members will change based on resource reallocation and staffing levels but may consist of:
- Registered nurses
- Ward aides
- Enrolled nursing assistants
- Personal care assistants
- Homecare nurses
- Nursing students
- Medical/surgical nurses
- Perioperative nurses
- Pediatric nurses
Other members of the healthcare team can include:
- Patient Care Technicians
- Respiratory Therapists
- Physical Therapists
- Unlicensed assistive personnel
Team nursing strategy
When a healthcare facility is structured using a team model, registered nursing staff spend most of their time at the nursing station, while enrolled nursing assistants take care of patients at the bedside. The nursing team will work in defined groups, each caring for a predetermined number of patients.
The groups must have a leader accountable for their success and a ward supervisor is ultimately responsible for the entire ward’s functioning. When the responsibilities of each group are identified, and the ward supervisor is aware of their position concerning those groups, healthcare facilities can effectively structure their staff with registered nurses and nursing assistants.
One of the main advantages of the team nursing model is that the nurses form strong bonds with each other and those in their care. Healthcare facilities that implement a team nursing model experience the higher levels of teamwork and collaboration required in today’s challenging environment.
One healthcare unit implemented team nursing in response to high turnover and a decline in staff morale. The result was increased nurse satisfaction because nurses felt supported in this collaborative environment driven by enhanced staff communication.
Responding to the increased demand for nursing staff was critical to the success of the implementation of the nursing team solution. This investment in additional nurses may have contributed to the success of team nursing in this unit.
Is team nursing for you?
Staffing with the aim to employ only critical care professionals is likely impossible for many healthcare systems. In the current economic climate, nurse managers must decide whether to stick with the status quo and use fewer nurses or take advantage of nursing services to increase staffing levels.
Developing the best nurse staffing strategy to meet your current and future patient needs may present an overwhelming challenge at first. That’s why forward-thinking health care organisations are partnering with experts in this field to develop and implement the ideal staffing models for their facilities.
Greys Nursing Agency has successfully placed thousands of nursing professionals into hospitals, care homes, doctors’ practices and private homes. Our extensive vetting, continuous training and vast pool of candidates ensure that you can hire the optimal number of nursing staff equipped to support and empower your healthcare company.
Contact us to access flexible, on-demand nursing services from a flexible and permanent healthcare staffing provider with over 40 years in the industry.