Community patients across Cwm Taf Morgannwg are benefiting from a smoother service and increased safety, with the introduction of innovative scheduling software that matches patient need with nursing skill.
The software, from developers Malinko, is being rolled out across all locality groups after proving to reduce paperwork, free up nursing hours and improve patient safety during a trial run in Hirwaun. Under the scheme, every district nurse has been given an iPad linked to a central system, allowing visits to be planned with more efficiency and emergency calls responded to faster.
The trial was part of a wider Neighbourhood Nursing pilot scheme – also involving Aneurin Bevan UHB and Powys Teaching Health Board – launched in 2018 with Welsh Government funding. Two district nursing teams in Hirwaun, involving 22 nurses, were chosen to test the software, which worked ‘exceptionally well’, according to Senior Nurse (District Nursing) Rhys Roberts.
“There are around 350 district nursing staff in Cwm Taf Morgannwg, with approximately 11,000 visits being made in each locality every month – so 33,000 as a health board,” said Rhys. “Scheduling of these visits was previously paper based, which had room for errors.
“We looked at our nurses’ non-clinical administrative time to see where we could boost clinical time, and we knew that Malinko was being used in some areas in England. It’s a sophisticated piece of software that matches patient needs with nursing skill, as well as details of our staff’s visiting schedule and where they are on a route. We’ve found it to be fantastic, bringing really good benefits.
“All staff have got iPads and the app shows them what each patient needs, as well as key information including next of kin. The pilot worked exceptionally well and based on this it was decided to roll it out across the health board. The software has eliminated process errors, which is very reassuring, and it also allows us to be more responsive and move things around quickly when we need to.”
One of the teams to start using Malinko just before the COVID19 pandemic took hold was the Treharris team. Team leader Vicki Jones said: “It’s natural to feel apprehensive when anything new is brought in, but this has made a huge difference to how we work. Previously, every Friday I would write the visit lists on the board for the following week, which would take all day, but this now frees me up to do more nursing.
“Red calls have to be answered within an hour. Now these come straight to our community navigator Natalie and she can see straight away which nurses are where and identify who is nearest. Also, if we have a repeating call, for example, it comes up automatically and all the patient information is there. It frees up nursing time and is a safer way of working.”
COVID19 has impacted on the district nursing teams, with an increase in phone and video consultations and video team meetings. Carers and relatives have also been skilled up in things such as wound care, and supported by specialist nurses in the community, including lymphoedema nurses, tissue viability nurses, diabetic nurses, health visitors and school nurses, who offered their services to district teams ‘overnight’ when lockdown was announced.
Vicki added: “During Covid, some of our team were shielding and we were busier than ever as more patients were home, with people not attending GP surgeries. We had some lymphedema nurses and diabetic nurses who came to help us, and the public have also been lovely, sending us gifts and rainbow posters. There are 10 members of our team and Malinko has really made a difference to how we work and to our patients.”
The software is now in use across the Merthyr Cynon and Rhondda Taf Ely localities and is to follow in Bridgend.
Photo: Members of the Treharris district nursing team