Professional Support Toolkit

The Noble's Hospital Professional Support Toolkit has been developed by the Senior Nurse / Midwifery Strategy Group on behalf of nurses and midwives, although many other professionals and practitioners will find it of benefit too.

The aim of the toolkit is to provide all nurses and midwives, wards and work areas with different leadership and management techniques / tools to deal with any ongoing situations as the need arises within the workplace.

Nurses and midwives work at the cutting edge of healthcare, whilst our work is often rewarding and satisfying, it is also recognised that the work of nurses and midwives can be demanding, challenging and stressful. We need support mechanisms to help us cope with the challenges we face on a day to day basis, we need to continually develop our decision-making ability and we need to grow professionally and personally.

Equipping nurses and midwives to work safely and effectively, delivering the very best care that they can, is crucial.

The NMC supports the principle of clinical supervision, however it believes that it is best developed at a local level in accordance with local needs and that other tools are helpful too.

The Senior Nurse / Midwifery Strategy Group, at Noble's Hospital, has therefore developed a toolkit to enable practitioners to select an appropriate method to assist them in their professional and personal development.

It is clearly recognised that the term 'supervision' within the professional context, in differing from the supervision of work activity, includes a wide range of activities and approaches that have a supervision impact, such as action learning, mentorship, coaching, critical companionship.

Rather than being restrictive to the use of specific models, those planning supervision are challenged to recognise the diversity of approach required, so that individual nurses not only have a choice, but can identify with a strong and supportive organisational infrastructure that advocates a shared responsibility for this work, and builds confidence in individual processes.

It has been agreed that, at Noble’s Hospital this choice will be termed 'Professional Support'.

Definition of Professional Support

Professional Support is defined as a process of learning undertaken through a range of activities, which enables individual registrant nurses to develop knowledge and competence, to become a conscious practitioner, assume responsibility for their own practice, and enhance service user protection, quality and safety of care.

Description of Professional Support Methods

Professional Support is an instrument of liberation and endorses the worth of those supporters, who as a result of this newly perceived value are able to take positive risks on behalf of patients based upon structured reflection of a given situation.

The methods of Professional Support contained in the toolkit are:

Clinical supervision:

  • A personalised support system focusing on reflection which will develop practice and ultimately improve patient care.
  • Include all things that impact on health care delivery
  • Should create a challenge of new learning that examines the beliefs and opinions that nursing care is based upon and set firmly within a framework of clinical governance.
  • Supervisors should be experienced practitioners and have been accepted onto the approved facilitator list contained in this toolkit.

Coaching:

  • Someone that helps individuals reflect on their performances at work and to distinguish the behaviours that are enabling from those that might be hindering the way they perform.
  • The art of facilitating the performance, learning and development of another.
  • The Coach should be chosen and not appointed.
  • The relationship focuses on individual or workplace objectives.
  • The emphasis is on learning and because the confidence of the individual is enhanced the increase in performance is sustained for a longer period and will impact on areas that were not directly subject to the coaching.
  • Coaches work alongside individuals to help improve performance at work and can help someone see opportunities for improvements as well as practical ways forward.

Mentoring:

  • Someone in a more senior or experienced position than the mentee who will help individuals to focus on their short-term objectives, helping them to review the skills and knowledge they require to be more successful at work.
  • Three main categories
  1. Mainstream mentor – guide, adviser and counsellor.
  2. Professional qualification mentor – guide a student through a programme of study for a professional qualification.
  3. Vocational mentor – guide a candidate through a programme of development and the accumulation and presentation of evidence to prove competence (for example, QCF NVQ).

Guided reflection:

  • A process of having someone to guide / talk you through the process of reflection using an identified model (for example, Johns model)

Critical companionship:

  • A relationship between 2 nurses who feel comfortable working together.
  • They identify an area of their practice they both want to develop and then meet regularly to give each other constructive, critical feedback on their progress.
  • Need to be honest, sensitive and supportive.
  • Feedback to each other on effectiveness of each others helping strategies

Action learning:

  • A group of people (usually around 6 to 7) who work together on learning, using reflection and exploration of issues and problems associated with work.
  • It is a continuous process of learning and reflection for an individual, who is supported by the members of a group.
  • There are 5 main elements to action learning:
  1. The participants, who should participate voluntarily
  2. The work related issue, which each individual should bring
  3. The group or set, the individuals who meet together to support and challenge each other, think through issues, agree actions and learn from the effects of the actions
  4. The set facilitator who facilitates the group as it works and Learns, providing structures for effective use of time, and helping the group develop a questioning approach to the exploration of issues
  5. The action and the learning. The issue is discussed and an action plan made which is monitored by the group at a subsequent session.

Facilitation:

  • Is the process by which things are made easier, or simpler, for individuals, teams, groups and organisations.
  • There are many different approaches to facilitation and it is important that you develop and use your own style.
  • There are a few principles that underpin most approaches which primarily apply to setting up and maintaining the 'space' for the participants to work together. Crucial to this is establishing and maintaining boundaries.
  • In order to facilitate effectively, you need to have an understanding of how groups function and of some of the dynamics that occur when people work together in groups.