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Florence Nightingale's legacy inspires nurse to take safety into the digital age

A senior nurse is taking patient safety into the digital era with the support of a charity named after the profession’s most famous leading light.

Lisa Graham is the Deputy Head of Nursing for medicine in Singleton and Neath Port Talbot hospitals.

Every morning the nine medical wards hold what is known as a safety huddle, during which any issues involving patient or staff safety are raised.

As the wards are spread across two sites, this is done virtually, with the information collated into a spreadsheet.

Now Lisa is looking to create a live and interactive digital version, which will improve patient safety even further.

And she has been awarded a Florence Nightingale Foundation Digital Leadership Scholarship to help turn her vision into reality.

The foundation’s main focus is on improving health, clinical outcomes and patient experience by fostering nursing and midwifery leadership.

Its scholarship programme provides support and mentorship for nurses and midwives undertaking projects to achieve those aims.

Lisa said she was inspired to apply by her manager, Sharron Price, Head of Nursing for Adult Services in the two hospitals, who has herself just completed her own Florence Nightingale Foundation scholarship.

“Sharron’s was a leadership scholarship and mine is a digital leadership scholarship so they will be very different even if the underlying principles are the same,” Lisa said.

“We are in the digital age of nursing now, and Swansea Bay is at the forefront of that in many ways. So it will be good to see what this scholarship will bring for the health board.”

Lisa (right) with Sharron Price outside Neath Port Talbot Hospital

All hospitals have their own versions of safety huddles. They are led by matrons, with ward managers providing daily updates on any patient or staff safety-related matters. These can range from falls and pressure ulcers to infection control issues.

It was Lisa who introduced them in Singleton and Neath Port Talbot, where the huddle is known as a “buzz”.

She described it as being among her proudest leadership achievements, and the one that had made the biggest improvement to safety.

“It’s an opportunity for ward managers to raise any issues with us and we in turn can escalate them if necessary,” Lisa said.

“In a nutshell it’s about keeping our patients and our staff safe, and ensuring we are providing quality care.

“We are seeing a reduction in avoidable harm. Risks are being escalated to the matron team in a timely fashion, allowing them to offer expert advice on the spot.

“I would like to take this to the next level and adapt the safety huddle into a digital version that is live and interactive.

“Digitalising it will make it easier for the ward managers, who can then spend a lot more time at the bedside.” 

Swansea Bay is already pioneering the latest digital technology in a number of key areas within its hospitals.

The Welsh Nursing Care Record, WNCR, went live in Neath Port Talbot Hospital last year following a pilot in 2020.

It allows staff to record and access patient information via computers, saving hours of time previously spent handwriting notes.

Swansea Bay created the original version, and subsequently developed WNCR on behalf of Digital Health and Care Wales, which selected it as the basis of an all-Wales solution.

Before that, the hospital led the way in another digital solution – HEPMA (Hospital e-Prescribing and Medicines Administration).

This automates the prescribing and administering of medicines for patients in hospital, saving time and reducing risks.

Both were implemented by the health board’s digital services team, with which Lisa will work with on her digital safety huddle plan.

“I have the vision but they will have the brains to develop the system,” she said.

Lisa (above) said she hoped the scholarship will help her to enhance her leadership skills – and others in turn.

She added: “I am a passionate nurse through and through. I want aspiring nurse leaders to follow in my footsteps and apply for scholarships.

“Working with other scholars across the UK and globally opens up a whole world of knowledge that we can pass on to our teams and colleagues within the health board.”

Sharron Price outside a hospital While Lisa is only at the start of her scholarship, her manager Sharron (pictured right) has reached the end of hers.

She said she had been unsure what to expect from it, but described the impact it had made as incredible.

During the year she has had ongoing support from her mentor, a highly experienced nurse director.

“I’m also interacting with women leaders from a range of corporations and companies across the world,” Sharron said.

“It’s wider than nursing as well. It’s about promoting leadership. You just get some fantastic opportunities.

“The networks you build are really inspirational and you get to meet and engage and talk to so many inspirational nurse leaders across the country. It really does give you a different perspective.

“I’m really passionate about nurse leadership and I’m delighted that Lisa has got the opportunity to do the scholarship as well.”

Like Lisa, Sharron would like to see more nurses from across the health board applying for scholarships.

She said: “We’ve always had a really strong nursing voice, but the scholarship is really helping to amplify that, and to make sure we are being heard and keeping patient safety at the centre of every discussion and every decision that we’re making.”

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