Luci Partridge, Joint GPN PCN Lead Nurse
Oakridge Park Medical Centre, Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK)
Shortly after qualifying as a practice nurse in 2018 I joined Oakridge Park Medical Centre in Milton Keynes. Within 18 months I had been appointed general practice nurse (GPN) lead for the Nexus Primary Care Network (PCN) of six practices. I went from knowing very little about practice nursing to now being heavily involved in the primary care network.
I have a real passion for primary care innovation including initiatives that empower patients to manage their own health and wellbeing. But it’s sometimes difficult to get new ideas and projects off the ground. Taking part in the CARE programme has helped me to develop and lead change, manage fears and influence colleagues around me. It has supported me to explore opportunities in a structured way and look at challenges from different perspectives to find solutions.
I found the weekly CARE webinars really engaging – we’re all given time and space to talk about our progress. The smaller breakout sessions are really useful for discussing progress and challenges in more detail. We were usually placed with different people in the breakout rooms each week which means you get to hear different perspectives and insights.
As part of the CARE programme I developed two quality improvement projects. The first was a patient weight loss programme. I wanted to focus on the root cause of the challenges some of our patients were facing when trying to lose weight, and explore how we can tackle these in a holistic and person-centred way. I searched for support in the community and managed to get a life coach, nutritionist and fitness instructor to provide their services for free. The patients attended sessions spread over 12 weeks which looked at things like improving mindset and sleep patterns, which we know can have a big impact on weight management. Rather than focussing just on weight loss, the sessions took a holistic approach and supported patients to make improvements to their lifestyles in very manageable ways.
The initiative saw some great outcomes in the first patient cohort – one patient lost 4cm around their waist and another lost 33 lbs. Overall, patients told us they felt much better about themselves and were able to stick to their lifestyle changes.
I also helped to develop a project which looked at patients with mental health issues who had low contact with general practice. We developed a questionnaire that asked these patients whether they lived alone, the level of mental health care they were receiving and if we could do anything else to support them.
Through analysis of the data, we found that 73% of the patients had an unmet need and required additional support. Many of these needs were social and emotional, which could be supported through social prescribing and signposting to appropriate services in the community.
The CARE programme really taps into the person-centred approach of general practice nurses. We see our patients regularly on a one-to-one basis and they will often open up to us more than they do with other health professionals. We understand their needs and can often pick up on any unmet needs. CARE has helped us to bring our ideas for improvement to life and influence colleagues around us. It’s given us a voice in shaping services and supported us to improve patient outcomes.