Northern Region collaboration project a success

The ‘yellow envelope’ project is a success for the region with First, Do No Harm, Health of Older People Clinical Network and the Transfer of Clinical Information ‘yellow envelope’ Group working together to improve the transfer of key clinical information between hospitals and residential aged care facilities.

“Northland District Health Board (DHB) had been using a yellow envelope with a check list printed on it to ensure that vital patient information accompanies patients transferring for acute care for the past two years. This simple process has been found to improve care by having the relevant clinical information to hand and minimising unnecessary delays,” says Margareth Broodkoorn, Director of Nursing & Midwifery, Northland DHB. “The Northern Region patient safety campaign First, Do No Harm, in partnership with the Health of Older People Clinical Network, identified benefits in spreading this initiative across the Northern Region. It has been a very good example of acute and residential aged care sectors working together to spread effective interventions that will improve safety.”

Following the launch of the yellow envelope in March 2013, results of a recent survey conducted by First, Do No Harm, which included clinicians and staff members from the four Northern Region district health boards [Auckland, Counties Manukau, Northland and Waitemata], St John and residential aged care facilities, found that 89% of the 166 survey respondents agreed that the yellow envelope helped to improve the process of sending relevant clinical information with a patient/resident on transfer to or from a residential aged care facility.

Other results indicate that 65% agreed that the yellow envelope reduced the number of telephone calls needed to obtain relevant clinical information, and 84% agreed that all relevant clinical information needed to assume care of a patient/resident was present in the yellow envelope on transfer.

Feedback from across the region indicates the benefits the yellow envelope has provided.

Simon Barnett, Service Improvement Manager at St John comments, “The yellow envelope initiative not only enables our ambulance staff to safely transfer patient information in a consistent way, but also ensures they have access to patients’ medical history right at their fingertips when making clinical decisions, therefore improving overall patient care.”

At Auckland DHB, Acting Nurse Director Jane Lees noted that the yellow envelope has proven to be a great asset. “The wards and departments, especially our Emergency Department, have really appreciated having appropriate and timely information about the patients who have transferred from residential care.”

Mercy Parklands Hospital Clinical Manager Margi Montagu-Fryer agrees, “The best outcome of using the yellow envelope is the consistency of information between public hospitals, long term care and back. Why did none of us think of this simple system before?”

Tanya Bish, Quality and Professional Development Nurse Leader for ARRC [Age Related Residential Care]/Waitemata DHB says that the yellow envelope has significantly reduced the number of concerns received regarding the lack of documentation being received at either aged care facilities or by hospital staff on transfer of residents between services. “This project has worked within some key principles that are important to Waitemata DHB.“

In Northland, Gerontology Nurse Specialist, Cathryn Henty says "The yellow envelope is a very useful tool and checklist which has improved our clinical handover and the discharge process from hospital to aged care facilities. It is easy to use and saves time and ensures the home is given all the information they need by acting as an aid memoire for the nurses to complete."

Michele Carson, Nurse Manager Medicine at Counties Maunkau Health comments that it makes the whole process of transferring patient information easy. “We know where they have come from and where they are going. We know how to meet the patient’s basic needs and what is normal for them. It provides a check list to ensure the patient transition from hospital to home flows well.”

Everyone who completed the survey was entered into a draw and congratulations go to Laurel Winwood from Taupaki Gables, Radius Residential Care, who was presented with her $75.00 voucher at a recent Waitemata DHB ARRC Forum by Tanya Bish (Waitemata DHB).

Thank you to all involved in making this regional project a success.