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Strengthening the role of the ward manager: a review of the literature

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Abstract

Background

The role of the ward manager is integral to service delivery, however, they may lack the necessary authority and autonomy to achieve the organisation and delivery of patient care.

Aim

To identify initiatives that have strengthened the ward manager role.

Methods

A review of published literature was undertaken. Data included were drawn from a variety of sources, including policy, professional literature and research studies.

Findings

Three policy initiatives were identified along with two innovations from ward managers and two recent professional organisation campaigns. One innovation was identified that could improve the process of care delivery thus empowering ward managers' decision making. The literature identified the need for a review of the role, and adequate administrative support and training for the role.

Conclusion

The literature reviewed provided little evidence of initiatives to strengthen the role of the ward manager, highlighting the imperative to develop an evidence base. There was consensus on the importance of education and training before and during appointment to the position.

Implications for nursing management

The role of the ward manager remains pivotal in care delivery. The focus should be on how best to support ward managers in achieving their role within health-care systems.

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