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Effective Handovers

As an Agency Nurse, handovers are the key to a successful shift, so here are some practical bits of advice.

  1. You need to make sure that you have gathered all information regarding the patients. Receiving a handover from a Nurse stating ‘Settled night’ is not a handover!
  2. You need to make sure you know who has catheters, peg feeds, syringe drivers, or who has diabetes or Parkinson’s medication, etc.
  3. Are you working a Night shift? If so, how often are night checks, is there any early morning medication that needs to be given?  

In short, make sure you receive as much information as possible! 

Make sure you arrive on time to your shift, or even 15 minutes early, so you can receive a full handover and induction.

The NMC code of conduct instructs nurses to work with colleagues to monitor the quality of their work and maintain the safety of those in their care. 

Handovers give staff the opportunity to discuss the treatment they’re giving, communicate problems and concerns, and ensure everyone knows exactly what’s going on. By doing this, the team can prevent jobs from being missed or repeated.

The handover of each patient is generally made up of three sections:

  • Past: historical info
    The patient’s diagnosis, anything the team needs to know about them and their treatment plan. So you’d include things like whether they are nil-by-mouth or require barrier nursing, if they need help with eating or using the toilet. If they are newly admitted then it’s a good idea to cover the circumstances leading to their admission.
  • Present: current presentation
    How the patient has been this shift and has there been any changes to their treatment plan? Keep in mind that significant changes might have occurred before your shift that the new team is not aware of; check when they were last in and what they already know. Include physical observations and any results from assessments or investigations.
  • Future: what is still to be done
    For lots of reasons, there can be jobs that have to be handed over to the next shift. Tasks that need to be completed at a certain time or something the team simply hasn’t had time to do yet.

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