Investigating and implementing change within the primary health care nursing team
Primary care is developing rapidly with significant impacts on the nursing team. Such changes have brought inter-professional team-working into sharper focus, particularly community care and collaborative working. This paper: examines the nursing roles within a general practice; describes the perspectives of service users; identifies areas of change; clarifies core and specialist skills; defines new roles among the primary health care nursing team; proposes a new model of working; and identifies appropriate education. The project was set in a general practice in south-west England and used an action research methodology. The objectives were to create a change in practice and to develop and refine existing theory to underpin nursing roles. Throughout the research regular team meetings allowed reflection and discussion about research findings and progress. Data were collected from multiple sources, including team workshops, patient focus group interviews, and individual interviews with GPs, practice managers and area managers. Reflective diaries and a patient survey were also used. The analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data collected from patients formed a basis for practice development and facilitated the team’s reflection on the areas of change. Overall high satisfaction with services and care was expressed in the patient interviews and the questionnaire. The themes from the data highlighted areas important for patients and helped in shaping the new roles and responsibilities for team members. Regarding the team perspective, the data indicated many areas that could be considered for development. The community nursing team decided to concentrate on three key areas: child health, leg ulcer management, and cardiovascular health. The research concludes that action research presents some problems and challenges but is a useful approach to developing team-working in primary health care.