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The nursing role in ICU outreach: an international exploratory study

Authors


  • Author: Professor R Endacott, School of Nursing & Midwifery, La Trobe University, Victoria 3086, Australia; School of Nursing and Community Studies, University of Plymouth, England; Professor W Chaboyer, Director, Research Centre for Clinical Practice Innovation, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

*School of Nursing & Midwifery, University of Plymouth, Earl Richards Road North, Exeter, EX2 6AS, UK
E-mail: ruth.endacott@plymouth.ac.uk

Abstract

It is widely acknowledged that many critically ill patients are managed outside of designated critical care units. One strategy adopted in Australia and England to assess and manage risk in these patients is the intensive care unit (ICU) outreach or liaison nurse service. This article examines how ICU outreach/liaison roles in Australia and England operate in the context of Manley's theoretical framework for advanced nursing practice. Descriptive case study design using semi-structured interviews and job descriptions as sources of evidence. Findings of interviews with six Australian ICU Liaison nurses are already published; this study replicated the Australian study with four ICU Consultant Nurses in England and mapped interview and job description data from both countries onto Manley's conceptual framework for advanced practice/consultant nurse. Four themes emerged from the English data: patient interventions, support for ward staff, liaison between ward and ICU staff and hospital-wide impact. The first three of these comprised the core service common to the roles in both countries. Manley's four subroles (expert practitioner, consultant, educator and researcher) were present across both countries. However, the interview and job description data demonstrated that there were lower expectations in Australia that the roles would lead to staff development and build capacity across the hospital system. Similarly, formal education for ward staff such as ALERT and CRiSP courses were more developed in UK. Our data demonstrate that the role undertaken in England and Australia is sufficiently comparable to use as a research intervention in international studies across the two countries. However, the macro service level differs. Job descriptions across both countries emphasized the need to influence hospital policy; however, the ICU consultant nurses in England might be considered better placed to achieve this through role title and access to the hospital executive. In both countries, the roles would benefit from systematic evaluation of the impact on outcomes. This is particularly important for longer-term integration of the role in the health services in both countries.

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