Across health and care settings in the UK and wider, the link nurse model in clinical practice is well-established for different specialties such as tissue viability (Tinley, 2000), diabetes (Bull & Veall, 2009), and colorectal cancer nursing (Perry-Woodford & Whayman, 2005). In infection prevention, interventions using education, audit, guidance and feedback are used to promote best practice (Storr et al, 2013). Understanding what works is crucial as the prevention of healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) is a national and international priority, linked to patient safety, the “cornerstone” of healthcare (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2012). The link nurse role can support infection prevention strategies by providing education for colleagues and the wider healthcare team (Royal College of Nursing, 2012), however little evidence exists to show their exact impact on promoting best practice and clinical care (Williams et al, 2013).
This presentation is a report of the findings of a current study to implement and evaluate a link nurse programme within one Health Board in Wales. Staff and students from the School of Healthcare Sciences, Bangor University have collaborated with the Infection Prevention team to develop a programme for new link nurses in community hospital settings. The programme includes support, education and regular contact with the infection prevention team, and, additionally, a bespoke small private online course (SPOC). The course is designed to promote the role, with 10 learning units specifically focused on behaviour change, promoting leadership skills, understanding contextual influences for managing positive change, as well as enhancing infection prevention knowledge and skills. Weekly discussion boards provide opportunities for the link nurses to contact the course team directly, network, and reflect on practice in a supportive environment. MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) principles are embedded into the design and delivery of the course (for example, 10 week timespan, credentialing and recognition). We use Course Sites platform to host the course, and ensure high levels of visibility in our “teacher” role throughout the course (Bayne & Ross, 2014). In this presentation, we will discuss the findings to date from the evaluation.