Link nurses are part of a system that shares information and provides formal, two-way communication between professional teams and nurses in the clinical area. Many different clinical areas or organizations might employ such nurses, including tissue viability and diabetes. Link-nurse systems have the potential to improve and enhance clinical effectiveness and disseminate research findings.
Link Nurses are of value to Trusts, and their role is to improve clinical ward audit scores, help infection control nurses implement policies, and collect data on hospital-acquired infections. In some healthcare organizations, however, there are operational difficulties for link nurse schemes including high turnover of staff and inadequate time for training and monitoring their effectiveness.
Role of a Quality Link Nurse
- The Link Nurse acts as a role model and visible advocate for Infection prevention and control (IPC) by:
- Providing a visible presence and being available in the workplace to clinical teams, patients, and service users.
- Working alongside the clinical team, acting as a role model who shows and promotes best practice at all times.
- Providing positive feedback to members of the clinical team to support the celebration of success.
- Challenging and managing poor practice with other local team members, and supporting staff to review and rectify behavior.
- The Link Nurse enables individuals and teams to learn and develop Infection prevention and control practice by:
- Working alongside clinical team members, particularly students and practice facilitators, to generate productive opportunities for learning.
- Working with local managers to develop a culture of learning and growth that will sustain improvements in Infection prevention and control (IPC) by learning from incidents/complaints and local data supporting evaluation of IPC practice.
- Utilizing opportunities to discover and develop their own IPC knowledge and skills in, and from, practice.
- The Link Nurse acts as a local communicator for Infection prevention and control issues by:
- Collaborating and communicating regularly with the IPC team, supporting them and clinical team members as a local resource.
- Developing innovative ways to communicate Infection prevention and control information including best practice standards and relevant support resources.
- Promoting or establishing networks relevant to their role within local governance structures.
- The Link Nurse supports local and organizational teams with audit/monitoring as a measure of the quality of care by:
- Being together with leaders/managers, facilitating the ownership of audit/surveillance by the whole local clinical team
- Acting as a local resource for audit/surveillance expertise, through the education and training of the local clinical team
Importance of having a Link Nurse Team in any Organization
Link nurse systems require energy and resources (staff and time) on behalf of those undertaking the role and the professional teams supporting the system through mentorship, education, and communication. For this reason, organizations need to demonstrate and celebrate the value that these systems bring. Examples of where this is of benefit include:
- The Link Nurse role is fit for local governance structures.
- Local education/training needs are supported within the organization.
- Evidence is incorporated effectively into clinical practice.
- The whole audit/inspection cycle is implemented and managed to enable improvements in care.
Core Behaviours of Link Nurse
The core behaviors considered essential for LNs are:
- Passionate about infection prevention and control (IPC)
- Responsible for planning, organizing, coordinating, evaluating, and documenting quality management integrated nursing
- An active participant in Link Nurse network/system
Finally, Link Nurses need to provide a good standard of care based on up-to-date information, and have a responsibility to update their practice. It is important that as new developments arise, the practice of link nurses is updated accordingly.Link nurses act as a bridge or link between their clinical area and the infection control team. Their role is to increase awareness of infection control issues in their ward and motivate staff to better practice. They must receive training from the infection control team to ensure their support.