For the past 15 years, nursing has been ranked as the most trusted profession, and nurses as professionals who uphold the highest ethical standards out of a wide range of professions.
Providing compassionate care can be a challenge for nursing staff when their rostering systems are opaque and complex, requiring extra paperwork that removes them from their patients. Automated rostering solutions are just one example of how healthcare organisations can help them better manage and optimise patient safety and care.
Managing to achieve a work/life balance is a hard ask for nurses working rotating shifts spread out over a 24-hour period.
And as many nurses are juggling busy work and family lives, getting the roster right is a high stakes game for any roster manager.
“No one is ever happy with their roster,” Melissa Drew says with a laugh.
A registered nurse since 2003, Ms Drew was seconded to the role of Clinical Operations Support in the Neonatal Intensive Care unit at The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne.
Since 2013 she helped to roll out the electronic rostering solutions across the unit, and has been maintaining staff profiles from 2016.
Working with staff throughout the staggered transition from manual to automated rostering, Ms Drew has seen subtle but positive changes in staff satisfaction levels since the solution was introduced.
The real-time updates have helped staff manage their time more efficiently by giving them easy access to transparent up-to-date roster information.
“In the old days we’d load up Excel spreadsheets onto the intranet. But these rosters wouldn’t be live or up to date,” she says.
“Giving nurses access to the technology to view and amend their rosters as needed has given them far greater control over their work/life balance.
“We want them to be anywhere at any time and able to log on to see their rosters from their phone, iPad or computer and look at updates in real time instead of having to come into the unit to do this.”
From her own perspective, Ms Drew is impressed by the live roster and the reporting functionality that allows her to review and analyse data.
“I used to have to print out roster documents and rifle through a 13 page spreadsheet to make the changes to the roster and update initial requests,” she says.
However within Allocate’s rostering solution, the shifts are colour-coded for quick and easy identification, which lowers the chance of errors.
“In Excel, there is more room for error,” Ms Drew says. “If, for example, a shift is accidentally deleted from the spreadsheet, there’s no way of tracking it.”
While staff satisfaction levels haven’t been actively monitored, Ms Drew says there are certainly “fewer complaints” since the roll-out of the system.
“Most of the time we can get something that works for staff that ensures they have a workable roster. We try to be flexible and roster the right people in the right place at the right time.”
Saturday, May 12, 2018, is International Nurses Day. While at most hospitals it will be “business as usual”, with the focus always on caring for patients and their families, it is also a special day to recognise the work of more than 350,000 nurses and midwives registered in Australia.
At the Royal Women’s Hospital Melbourne, Nursing and Midwifery awards will be presented to staff, along with other fun activities including an afternoon tea and a staff benefits stall.
To learn more about how you can help your nursing staff achieve a better work/life balance please read our case study on how e-rostering improved staff engagement at public health service in Victoria.