Patients supported by heart failure nurses perceived to benefit

15th October 2015

Patients who have a heart failure nurse specialist as part of their care team appear to experience better coordination and continuity of their care, says a recent study.

The study, involving researchers from Oxford, Bristol, Keele and Sheffield, looked at the perceptions and experiences of medical staff managing people with heart failure. It focused on those working in multidisciplinary teams that included specialist heart failure nurses.

Researchers used in-depth interviews of staff around unplanned admissions to hospital for heart failure patients. They interviewed 24 clinicians across primary, secondary, and community care in three locations in the Midlands, South Central, and South West of England.

The study identified two areas where medical staff agreed there were particular challenges when working with heart failure patients. The first was communication with patients, in particular explaining the diagnosis and helping patients to understand the condition. Medical staff recognised that communication was most effective when they had a long-term relationship with patients and families and that the specialist nurse played an important part in achieving this relationship.

The second was communication within the team. The need for multidisciplinary input was especially needed because of the complexity of the issues many patients face, including those around medication. The medical staff believed the specialist nurse could facilitate team communication.

The study highlighted the role of specialist heart failure nurses in giving tailored information to patients and helping better liaison among all clinicians, particularly when dealing with the management of other illnesses and drug regimes.

“The way in which specialist nurses were able to be caseworkers for their patients was perceived as a method of ensuring coordination and continuity of care, “ the study said.

Ref: Managing Patients With Heart Failure: A Qualitative Study of Multidisciplinary Teams With Specialist Heart Failure Nurses