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How To Conduct A Quality Clinical Handover in Aged Care

By Dr Irene Stein

The clinical handover is a critical link in the provision of safe and quality care and services. It is a powerful tool for conveying current information about a consumer from one care team to another, ensuring continuity of care. 

Every care and services team member has a responsibility to provide input into the clinical handover content and process.

If you are the registered nurse or team leader of an outgoing shift your responsibilities include:

  1. Checking in with other care and services team members to obtain up to date clinical information about consumers 
  2. Being well prepared by reviewing all the consumers you are handing over to the next shift before the clinical handover starts
  3. Preparing the clinical handover sheet in advance of the start of the process
  4. Leading the clinical handover process so the incoming team is engaged – you should also provide time at the handover for the team to ask you any questions
  5. Commencing the handover when the entire incoming team is present unless there are extenuating circumstances
  6. Documenting all handover information in a consumer’s records and the communication book/folder

If you are the registered nurse or team leader of an incoming shift your responsibilities include:

  1. Allocating staff according to consumer acuity
  2. Designating and staggering breaks across your team to ensure safe levels of staff coverage at all times
  3. When going on a break notify your team and handover keys to another registered nurse
  4. Escalating any clinical concerns to the care manager

It is important that all staff provide the clinical team leader with any information for the next clinical handover throughout their shift. This may be as simple as an improvement in mobility or as serious as documenting challenging behaviours. Every piece of clinical information informs the clinical handover and ongoing care delivery. 

Whatever your clinical care and services role is you must be:

  • Actively engaged with the clinical handover
  • Provide your valuable input to the process
  • Listen closely to the clinical handover
  • Communicate clearly and effectively

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