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Designing a new model of care to improve patient flow

8 December 2022

The new Ward 5A is one of the most significant infrastructure projects to be undertaken at QEII since the opening of the new ED/Endoscopy wing almost a decade ago, but it is the preparation of the workforce for the expanded service that is one of the real triumphs for nursing at QEII this year.

Opening the new ward space in June meant the relocation of General Medical and Cardiology - including the staff - to Ward 5A and a unique opportunity to trial a new Acute Assessment Unit (AAU) in Ward 3B. 

The AAU is an essential part of the patient flow strategy, with the objective to transfer likely admissions of medical and surgical patients from Emergency Department at the earliest point in their presentation.

Through early ED Senior medical officer review, these patients can be identified and transferred to the AAU while they await test results and medical planning in a comfortable and safe environment.

QEII Hospital Director of Nursing, Nicki Dennis said she was proud of the process adopted by the divisions to develop the new model of care for the AAU to ensure it was fully staffed and operational within 12 days of Ward 5A opening and commencing operations.

“The success of the strategy has been attributed to the pre-planning that went into sourcing and onboarding staff for both Ward 5A and Ward 3B in the weeks leading up to the move,” Nicki said.

“After identifying the interest of current clinical staff to move to the new units, we were able to increase the current nursing pool with more graduate nurses, enabling the backfill of positions dispersed across the hospital for a measured transition with limited clinical interruption.”

This method allowed the new staff of Ward 5A and Ward 3B time to familiarise themselves with the ward, the layout, the patient cohort, and commence working as a team before the areas were operationalised.

Importantly, the new staff were able to have direct input into the models of care with their invaluable ward-based perspectives giving them greater ownership of managing the ward/unit.

“Having ward nurses develop it and own it, run scenarios, and come up with options and solutions themselves, was key to the new model of care working really well. When the nurses design it, they have ownership of it and will continue to make tweaks to keep patient flow moving well,” Nicki said.
Nurse Unit Manager of Ward 5A Peter Brown says the success of the transition for General Med and Cardiology comes down to great team dynamics.

“All 40 plus staff (32 FTE) from the former team in Ward 3B transitioned into their new future as the Cardiology and General Medical team in the new Ward 5A space,” Peter said.

“The whole team were excited about the opportunity to stay together to make the transition. It was satisfying to be a part of a coordinated effort to prepare the staff and patients for the move and it is a wonderful opportunity to call a brand-new space home when so many have worked at QEII for a long time."

The trial of the AAU model of care is ongoing with continuous reviews and refinements. 

Last updated 8 December 2022
Last reviewed 8 December 2022

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