An investigation into the effect of a staffing strategy on patient care in a selected hospital in Kwazulu-Natal
The South African Nursing Council believes that “quality nursing practice is based on adequate knowledge, skills or competencies, ethically and scientifically based comprehensive and holistic patient care, timely, accurate and complete or comprehensive recording” (SANC, n.d.). The aim of professional regulation is to protect the public from unsafe practices and to ensure quality services (SANC, n.d.). A shortage of nursing staff resulted in the implementation of a staffing strategy of increasing the work hours of nurses by ten hours a week. Patient complaints and unacceptable patient incidences resulted in it becoming essential to evaluate the effect of this strategy on patient care. As a goal of this study, the researcher decided to investigate the quality of patient care before the implementation of the strategy and the effect of the strategy on patient care after the implementation. The objectives of the study were set to determine whether • The patients were assessed according to activities of daily living and psychosocial data; • The nursing diagnosis was done • Nursing interventions are prescribed for each problem identified • The patients’ records were utilised to enhance individualised patient care and to ensure responsibility and accountability for patient care • The evaluation of patient progress was done according to the different prescriptions and interventions at least twice in 24 hours • A written final report for discharge criteria and health education was provided • A comparison of the quality of nursing care delivered before and after the implementation of the staffing strategy exist Research question What is the effect of an implemented staffing strategy in a selected hospital in KwaZulu-Natal on the quality of care delivered? Research methodology A non-experimental, descriptive design with a quantitative approach was applied. Population and sampling The target population for the study was patient care records of patients who were hospitalised during 2003. A non-probability convenience sample for a retrospective audit of a total of 372 patient care records over a period of 12 months was audited. An evaluation of the records was done and a comparison was drawn between the results obtained before and after the implementation of the staffing strategy. For both periods, 186 patient records were audited. The pilot study included the audit of 40 files. Reliability and validity were assured with a pilot study and the use of experts in nursing management, quality assurance, research methodology and statistics. The researcher audited the patient files personally. Ethical approval was obtained from Stellenbosch University and the ethics committee of the hospital. All principles related to ethics, such as confidentiality and anonymity, were maintained. Neither patient names were used nor the name of the hospital or wards from which the records were used. Codes were used to identify the hospital wards. The hospital was informed in the letter requesting consent to conduct the research, that the researcher intends publishing the findings of the research. Data analysis and interpretation Statistical associations using Chi-square tests were carried out to determine the significance between the various variables. The results of this study were presented in percentages, tables and histograms. Findings obtained showed that the quality of nursing declined after the strategy. Documentation of patient records was incomplete and did not meet legal requirements. Recommendations The implementation and maintenance of a quality assurance programme, human resource management, the on-going use of the nursing process and record keeping should be emphasised in the clinical practice environment and in the formal education environment.