Study will help to improve care

A PIONEERING study in Tayside working with community nurses and terminally ill patients has produced a standardised care package which researchers say could be a valuable aid for the NHS and other health systems.

The Dignity Care Pathway allows community nurses to better understand patients’ needs, and for the patients themselves to express their own concerns. It has been developed through a research project carried out at Dundee University, working closely with NHS Tayside and patients and nurses across the area.

Dr Bridget Johnston, from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, who led the research, said that patients can have very different concerns and needs and that a trusting relationship with the community nurse can be both a comfort and a help.

She said: “The system we have developed gives a considerable degree of support both to the community nurse and to the patient. We have developed this in distinct stages and tested it fully with patients and nurses and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“This is a practical guide and one which could be adopted across health services, bringing significant benefits in terms of dignity-based care.”

The pathway starts with a questionnaire which the community nurse shares with the patient and which helps identify the issues important to each patient. That is followed by a set of reflective questions to explore the issues further and then a set of actions designed to cater to the patient’s needs.

Dr Johnston added: “The system helps build a pathway of very personalised care, catering to the concerns and needs of each particular patient.”