Back to basics

Aileen Pooley1

1Calvary Health Care Bruce, Canberra, Canberra, Australia

As emergency nurses, we can get caught up in the theatrics of the advanced care we endeavour to provide. This often results in core or basic elements of care not being met.

Gone is the age of one evening off per week (from patient care) for courting and cleaning purposes, hospital corners and rounding with each doctor, though there will always remain a physician who expects this from nursing.

With increasing pressures to perform more complex, time consuming duties, while maintaining a higher skill set, we risk deviating from the basic day to day tasks that remain core to the function of a nurse and the needs of our patients.

On professional reflection, our department noted an increase in near misses and potentially unsafe practise. We also recognised that the most immediate way to address these matters was not to introduce greater complexity but to in fact go ‘back to basic’ to consistently provide high quality care for our patients, their families and the wider community.

An initiative began re-educating and re-focusing on the importance of basic care for our patients. We have created a proactive team to promote passion of emergency nursing, re-dedicated to the importance of basic nursing care within our department without impacting on advanced practise continuing to support our higher acuity patients. This approach facilitates a decrease in medication errors and gaps in our handover process. A key component of this approach being focused on looking and talking to our patients rather than becoming task orientated.

By re-focusing our whole team, we have seen a fall in near misses, improved staff morale and an increase in patient satisfaction. Adapting Lieutenant General David Morrison’s stance “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept”, everyone is driving towards a common goal of patient centred care on all levels.


Aileen is a registered nurse in the Emergency Department at Calvary Hospital in Canberra. Aileen successfully graduated from the University of Canberra where she completed a Bachelor of Nursing Degree.  Aileen has completed a post graduate certificate and is working towards her diploma in Emergency nursing and currently undertaking a child and family health care diploma.

Aileen is competent in the roles of triage, medical emergency team and working towards her advanced practice nursing.  Aileen is passionate about improving patient outcomes and staff education to improve the health and safety of all patients.