Nursing develops strategies to enhance patient family experience in the PICU

Partnerships with patient families are integral to positive patient outcomes in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Texas Children’s. Since launching a quality improvement project a year ago, the PICU team developed a point of care survey to help them identify opportunities to enhance the PICU stay for patient families.

“Press Ganey surveys are typically sent to patient families after they have been discharged,” said Karla Abela, a critical care clinical specialist at Texas Children’s. “Since discharges to home are very rare in the intensive care setting, meaningful and actionable data from these surveys were challenging to obtain.”

Collaborating with a patient experience consultant and a family-centered care specialist, the PICU team developed an electronic point of care survey. Questions were reviewed to ensure no redundancies existed between this PICU survey and the survey that families receive after discharge from the hospital.

The 10-item questionnaire measured how well nurses and physicians partnered with the families through participation in multidisciplinary daily rounding and routine communication. Tablets were used to make the survey accessible at the point of care for ease of data collection and analysis.

Soon after initiating the survey – and as a result of identifying the need to better communicate with families – the team implemented the Family Care Journal, a notebook that includes information about the hospital’s services, a section for families to keep track of their child’s medications and procedures, and blank pages to record questions, concerns and feelings the families want to share with their care team.

“It was clear that beyond daily multidisciplinary rounds, families had limited ways of communicating with their child’s care team,” said Jenny Tcharmtchi, a critical care staff nurse at Texas Children’s. “The PICU survey along with the journal has helped to further facilitate communication between the family and their care team.”

Since the project began a year ago, more than 500 journals have been distributed to patient families, and 78 percent of those who responded to the family experience survey say the journal was a useful tool during their child’s PICU stay at Texas Children’s.

“The family experience project has been a successful initiative that depended on the efforts of a multidisciplinary team,” Abela said. “Continued education of staff and oversight of outcomes are necessary to sustain engagement and awareness.”

Click here to read an article written by Abela and Tcharmtchi, which was recently published in the Society of Critical Care, Critical Connections news magazine.