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NHS England’s Experience of Care Professional Lead shares his views on the revised Nursing and Midwifery Council Code of Conduct and revalidation:
Let’s face it, the nursing and midwifery professions have been through some challenging times over the last few years.
This has effected not only on how people who need nursing and midwifery care see us, but also how we see ourselves and our professional regulator, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
The professional standards that we uphold are the first impression that people have of us, as individuals as well as a professional group. The Oxford Dictionary defines standards as ‘a required or agreed level of quality’ .
Quality is what nurses and midwives should have at their heart. Delivering a safe, effective excellent experience for those we care for is what we all should strive to do.
Supporting us to do this are the Compassion in Practice Strategy (2012) and the revised NMC Code of Conduct (2015). These documents aren’t just about us delivering quality to those who need our care, but also about how we should treat each other and how we work in the wider health and care system and within nursing and midwifery teams.
Before moving to my role as Experience of Care Professional Lead at NHS England, I was Assistant Director of Nursing at a busy acute Trust. Therefore, I have thought about the Code and professional practice from different sides of the fence.
The Code is not a document to use as a stick to beat registered nurses and midwives with when holding them to account. It is a tool to use every day to enhance the care we deliver within our practice. It is a foundation stone for us to build on, no matter where that practice is delivered. Consistent standards across England and the other countries of the UK are key to reassuring the public that no matter where they need care, they can receive the same standards in any corner of the UK.
Revalidation is close upon us and we, as registrants, must make sure we are prepared and ready to ensure we follow the standards set by the NMC, which have been tested extensively across the UK and across nursing and midwifery sectors.
No matter what role you are in, reflecting on the Code is pivotal to enhancing practice and developing your competency in delivering compassionate care. I love how a revalidation pilot CCG and practice nurse summed up the requirement for reflection: what, so what, then what. Easy to remember and clear to understand how you should reflect on your practice, CPD events and learning experiences, whatever these may be.
Nurses and midwives reflect all the time, but we don’t necessarily write that down. Using simple tools is key – those highlighted on the NMC website I have found to be useful and clear.
Feedback is a really essential aspect of revalidation; feedback from those we care for, those we work with, or those we come into contact with throughout our nursing or midwifery roles. How we are perceived is important, and we all need to understand this and how it affects the care we deliver and the confidence it gives to those we come into contact with.
There is a wide variety of feedback that we can all learn from; surveys, Friends & Family Test, 360 degree appraisals etc. We as individuals have to take our own responsibility for ensuring we complete the revalidation process, but our employers also have a responsibility to support their staff.
It is important to keep a note of the content of any feedback you receive in anonymised form, including how you used it to improve your practice. This will support you in writing your personal reflective accounts.
You must keep details of the name of the NMC registrant you have your professional development discussion with, their PIN number and professional contact details, the date of discussion and the number of reflections discussed.
Gaining sign-off is another new part of the revalidation process; which has to be done by a third party person. This person will be confirming that you have fulfilled the revalidation requirements, not that you are fit to practice. This confirmation will enhance our accountability as a profession due to the independent nature of the confirmer.
This confirmer can be your line manager, although if individual registrants do not have a line manager they can seek a confirmer who is a registrant who ideally has worked with them or understands their nursing or midwifery role.
If your confirmer is a nurse or midwife this process should be built into your revalidation reflective discussions. If they are not a nurse or midwife you will need to have the reflective discussion first with an appropriate NMC registered professional. Once all the requirements are complete the confirmer will confirm that you have fulfilled the revalidation requirements.
The revised Code and revalidation will be new chapters in our profession and we as registrants can take ownership of ensuring we uphold the standards expected of us and drive quality forward day in, day out.