The impact of an ICU liaison nurse: a case study of ward nurses' perceptions

Wendy Chaboyer, Brigid Gillespie, Michelle Foster, Melissa Kendall
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2005, 14 (6): 766-75

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To provide a description of ward nurses perceptions of the intensive care unit liaison nurse role.

BACKGROUND: Critical care outreach services have become commonplace over recent years. In Australia, the intensive care unit liaison nurse, developed at a local level by healthcare providers, has emerged as a way of improving the continuity of care offered to this patient group. As a relatively new development in critical care services, evaluation of this role has been limited, particularly in relation to the perceptions of ward nurses who receive patients on discharge from intensive care unit.

DESIGN: Case study of one Australian hospital that utilizes an intensive care unit liaison nurse.

METHODS: Ten ward nurses were purposefully selected for their representativeness of the population and for their experience with the intensive care unit liaison nurse role. Each of these nurses participated in semi-structured in-depth interviews. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data.

FINDINGS: Three major themes emerged from the interviews, highlighting role behaviours, contextual demands and outcomes associated with the intensive care unit liaison nurse role. The role behaviours of the liaison nurse included the professional characteristics of the individual and the primacy of clinical liaison as a role descriptor. Contextual demands were environmental characteristics relevant to providing patient, family and staff support. Outcomes of the role were perceived to include environmental preparation and education.

CONCLUSIONS: This qualitative study has presented an overview of ward nurses perceptions of the intensive care unit liaison nurse role within one Australian hospital, illustrating the educative and empathic support that the liaison nurse role can provide to ward nurses.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Collaboration with ward nurses in developing specialist roles such as the intensive care unit liaison nurse is essential in ensuring improvements in patient and family care across the continuum.

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