Teamwork and social cohesion are key: Nurses' perceptions and experiences of working in a new decentralised intensive care unit

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Australian Critical Care


Background: Decentralised nursing stations (DCNs) have gained popularity in new hospital designs owing to their positive impact on patient safety. However, the impact on the nurses' working environment and on continuity and quality of patient care is limited. Objectives: The objective of this study was to describe nurses' perceptions and experiences of the working environment and of patient care in a decentralised intensive care unit (ICU). Methods: Twelve months after the establishment of the new decentralised ICU in a tertiary teaching hospital in Sydney, Australia, a prospective cross-sectional survey of registered nurses working in the unit was undertaken. Nurses' perceptions and experiences of the working environment and patient care were evaluated using a 56-item questionnaire comprising nine domains and optional open-ended comments. Quantitative data were analysed using SPSS, version 25. Qualitative data were used to enhance the quantitative data. Results: A total of 128 nurses responded to the questionnaire. The mean scores for overall job satisfaction, nursing teamwork, social cohesion, continuity of patient care, and quality of patient care were 3.02 (±0.91), 2.78 (±1.05), 2.68 (1.02), 2.60 (±1.01), and 3.48 (±0.88), respectively, for a maximum obtainable score of 5. Overall mean scores for teamwork, social cohesion, and continuity of patient care were explained by nurses to be a direct result of the physical layout of the new DCN ICU. Nurses believed this influenced their ability to interact with other staff and impacted teamwork and social cohesion and in turn reflected in their current job satisfaction. Conclusions: Implementation of a new model of nursing care, whereby staff members are rostered together in a pod for a period of time, along with team-building exercises, is recommended to improve the social cohesion and teamwork within the DCN ICU. Further research on nurses' experiences within a DCN ICU is required to produce robust evidence and generalisability.

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