Improving Catheter Care: Learning from others

By Gill Downing, Bladder and Bowel Specialist Nurse, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust

As a specialist nurse in the Bladder and Bowel Team, I find myself actively seeking out ways to make care better for our patients using catheters and related products.

Recently, I have been working with other nurses, GPs, citizens and commissioners to look at how we can improve the catheter care pathway for patients when discharged from hospital.

It’s an exciting time to be involved in improving catheter care; with us looking into developing an agreed list of catheter care products, a catheter register and a new way of delivering our services.

One day in early October, I got up for work as usual but instead of heading to a clinic I got ready for something else entirely. I was off to Wokingham to see an electronic continence products management system. I had heard that the system has helped tackle problems like prescription duplication, care coordination and even knowing who has a catheter – these are problems we are also trying to solve in Southwark and Lambeth. So it was a great chance to see the system in action – and gain the views of staff already immersed in this way of working.

There were a group of us going; community nurses, specialist nurses in the acutes and district nurses. We were looking forward to speaking to colleagues that are already using the system, getting their thoughts on how it works and what impacts they have seen.
When we arrived at Wokingham Hospital we were show how the prescription management system worked, who was needed to operate it and what effect it can have on patients and staff.

As you can imagine, seeing the system up and running was invaluable. This particular management system created a central point for managing supply and prescribing catheter and other continence products across their area. Straightaway you could see the benefits; their continence team can control over prescribing of products, their budget and ensure patients had everything they required. It also allowed the team to consider the best care possible for their patients and ensure patients were seen on a regular basis and when required.

From our perspective, it certainly gave us all food for thought in terms of how this system could work for us in Southwark and Lambeth. It was hard not to see the benefits this type of system would have.

When looking to implement change, I believe that it is important to see things with your own eyes, in an area already using the system and it is without a doubt that this trip proved to be both interesting and helpful.  As well as seeing the catheter management system in action, it was inspiring to be with other continence specialists who are clearly passionate about theirs jobs and delivering the best care for their patients. It was an amazing opportunity to spend time with other healthcare professionals and to talk about how we are constantly striving towards improving the way in which we deliver care for our patients.

It was a reminder for me that even though we are delivering care in different settings, we are aiming for a common goal of ensuring our patients receive a gold standard service. 

Having visited a site which utilises a different way of working and having those discussions with likeminded colleagues, I am hoping that this proves to be a catalyst for change and we can continue to improve on the care we deliver for our patients in Southwark and Lambeth.