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Care Assurance Link Person

Cotterell et al (2007)[1] recognise the role as being able to ‘enhance clinical effectiveness and benefit patient care, enabling communication and information sharing between specialist nurses and clinical staff”. Whilst this resonated with the vision for link nursing / person in the CAS it was felt that it did not address issues of change or quality improvement. 

The RCN (2012)[2] defines the role of the link nurse as:

‘expert advisers and facilitators …. Who develop knowledge and skills in areas such as professional practice, change management, education, leadership and quality improvement’

It is with this in mind that the CAS programme defines a link person as:

“A person that is, or is moving towards being a subject specific champion, a resource, improvement and monitoring person for an identified topic of practice or care”

Link Person Role, Responsibilities and Process:

Role Description:

The CAS Link person role will be generic in relation to the organisations expectations of the link person. The support the organisation will provide a practitioner to undertake the link person role, will benefit the individual practitioner. The topic of the speciality will cover the 13 CAS standards within the Care Assurance System Framework. It is envisaged that the SCN/ SCM/TL will discuss, agree and set the ward / areas strategic direction and the goals to be achieved with the link person in relation to their allocated standard. This is not a role for which a job description is required as it is intrinsic within the professional and occupational responsibilities of any registered nurse/midwife/healthcare professional.

Generic Responsibilities of the Link Person:

  • Proficiency
  1. Develop and maintain and evidence based knowledge and skills pertaining to the allocated standards subject.
  2. As a subject specific champion
  3. Work towards proficiency in understanding/applying improvement methodology, with the care outcomes in mind.
  4. Develop proactive skills for change management and with the support of the SCN/SCM/TL empowering the team to strive towards achieving and maintaining the CAS Standard.
  5. Mandatory participation in any related skills or knowledge updating
  6. Develop leadership competence and people skills e.g. persuading and facilitating difficult conversations.
  • Communicate:
  1. Information regarding the allocated standard/subject to team and SCN/SCM/TL and provide feedback to the specialist clinical nurse.
  2. Cascade the standard information to and in wider agendas e.g. study sessions, newsletters, presentations.
  3. Facilitate knowledge development/educational activities tailored to meet the needs of the clinical teams, including others to whom it is relevant.
  • Support
  1. With fellow link persons in the ward, the organisation and wider NHS board.
  2. For others in continual monitoring and improving practice.
  3. To ward staff/peers/AHP and other colleagues in relation to subject knowledge.
  • Data collection
  1. Identify and agree with SCN/SCM/TL areas for improvement based on appropriate audits and information.
  2. Collate, review data and record information.
  3. Agree evidence required with the SCN/SCM/TL create and add to the ward / team CAS Standards evidence portfolio.
  4. e) Support staff to work through at a local level the model for clinical improvement.

 Organisational Support for Link Person

  1. Time will be allocated and rostered to enable the link nurse/midwife to fulfil their role. This will enable the SCN/SCM/TL autonomy in directing their resources to best effect.
  2. Support from SCN/SCM/TL's and the wider senior management and support teams.
  3. Attend x 2 Link person support sessions per year.
  4. To progress the CAS support mechanisms with maintenance of cross boundary health board links.
  5. Provision of a Link Person Information resource network.
  6. Opportunity to develop knowledge and skills – sign posted to:
  • Improvement skills development
  • leadership skills development
  • challenging behaviour workshops
  • Coaching skills
                        

Benefits for the Link Person

  1. Evidence for Revalidation- portfolio
  2. Opportunity for professional/career and leadership development
  3. Educational opportunities – improvement skills/leadership skills and challenging behaviour workshops

Process

  1. Learning development: Signpost to current learning and development availability (e.g. Learn pro, Improvement Advisor fellows, NES Quality HUB)
  2. Communication: Community of practice, shared space provision, information resource network.
  3. Support Mechanisms: Practice Development, Organisational Development, Learning and Education support to develop Link persons at a local level as well as opportunity for peer support within the organisation.
  4. Improvement: Undertake audits, utilise the ward data dashboard and develop/ maintain a standard evidence portfolio
  5. Succession Planning: Maintain a link person register at ward level/ site level. The link person responsibilities for specific standards will be ‘rotated’ across teams. 

[1] Cotterell p, Lynch C, Petters D (2007) Bridging the gap: can a link nurse initiative influence palliative care in an acute hospital. International journal of Palliative care vol 13, No3 pp 102 - 108

[2] Royal College of Nursing (2012) the role of the link nurse in infection prevention and control: developing a link nurse framework. RCN London

Download: Link Person eResources 2019.docx