New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association
Nurse-to-patient ratios have improved clinical care and work satisfaction for nurses at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia.
In the old days, only seven nurses could be there to care for patients in Ward 7 East 2 at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
The Ward 7 East 2 surgical unit has a high patient turnover rate and is a multidisciplinary ward specialising in, among others, urology, melanoma, gynaecology, gynae-oncology, radiation oncology and dermatology.
Nursing unit manager Aaron Jones remembers just how difficult it was before nurse-to-patient ratios were put in place.
“The staff were very stressed,” says Aaron. “They would often get so busy that they wouldn’t have time to just stop for a minute and regroup, and that would build up the stress.”
After ratios were implemented in August 2011, he noticed significant improvements in staff morale and the quality of clinical care. “On a workplace satisfaction survey that we did after the new ward provisions came in, we saw a significant improvement on the previous staff satisfaction survey results.
“What I’ve seen as a manager is staff who were really stressed and not particularly happy at times, to staff that are less stressed. There will always be stress in this job, but now staff report to me that they have a lot more workplace satisfaction.”
New ratios have also allowed the ward to change its model of care, through the new staff they have taken on board. To add a much needed boost to the provision of care in the ward, Aaron spent a couple of months recruiting graduates, a flow nurse, supernumerary and extra night shift staff.
The hospital’s quality improvement programme has also shown positive results. The Hand Hygiene Australia rating has risen from a 3.5 to a 5-star rating.