Pioneering partnership in nursing and midwifery is a health care win for Victoria

Partnership story

Deakin’s academic/health services partnership network has both significantly improved Victorian nursing and midwifery care and become an international showcase for translating research to make a real difference in the quality of health care.

Partnership highlights

  • Deakin University has created the first fully integrated nursing and midwifery academic/health services partnership network of its kind in the world: Deakin Partners in Nursing and Midwifery.
  • The health services in the partnership network provide care for more than three million Victorians annually and employ approximately 30,000 nurses and midwives – almost half the practicing nurses and midwives in the State.
  • Demonstrating a deep commitment by industry to research, the health sector has co-funded multiple research positions for nurses and midwives and provided clinical training opportunities for students. This will result in considerable benefit for all through research, research training and translation of evidence to practice.
  • The partners also contribute to Deakin’s curricula through membership of Deakin advisory boards, ensuring the University prepares nurses and midwives with the skills, knowledge and attitudes required to meet industry workforce expectations.

Using research to improve quality of care

Deakin's academic/health services partnership network has both significantly improved Victorian nursing and midwifery care and become an international showcase for translating research to make a real difference in the quality of health care.

Recognising the fundamental need to bring nursing and midwifery research and practice together to optimise quality of care, a team of innovative Deakin nursing researchers began establishing health service partnerships across Victoria’s public and private health sector.

Beginning with the Epworth Hospital in Richmond in 1996, six major Victorian health services are now involved in the partnership. This has achieved seamless co-operation between nursing and midwifery research and clinical practice, resulting in a focus on improving the quality and safety of health care. Jointly funded Chairs of Nursing and Midwifery are embedded within health services at Alfred Health, Monash Health, Western Health, Eastern Health, Barwon Health and Epworth HealthCare. Together, these providers govern more than 30 acute and sub-acute care hospitals and 11 residential aged care facilities.

The Deakin team sits at the centre of an intricate network collaborating to identify and address gaps in health care. Integrating with one of Australia's largest schools of Nursing and Midwifery at Deakin also ensures the next generation of nurses and midwives receive optimal education.

Research findings are shared globally through academic journals and networks, providing best practice, evidence-based guidance to nursing and midwifery practitioners everywhere.

The research also informs national policy, for example, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality and Health Care, which sets national standards for quality and safety in health care.

Hospitals have changed significantly over the past 20 years. Advances in technology, hospital design and medical science (such as personalised medicine) are offering much greater potential for positive outcomes. Despite this, hospitals continue to face challenges such as rising costs, higher demand through ageing populations and increasing incidences of chronic disease and global pandemics.

To meet these challenges, identifying efficiencies is key. Deakin’s partnership network provides its members with clinically-focussed research to improve the quality and safety of patient care and develop their workforce, ensuring the delivery of care that is based on the best available evidence.

Evidence-based practice is hugely important across the health sector and allows nurses and midwives to improve their decision-making and consolidate their experience, skills and training as health professionals.

The partners also provide nursing and midwifery professionals with experience in multidisciplinary research projects extending from pre-natal care to end-of-life care. They take place in a range of settings, spanning community care, critical care, acute and sub-acute care, aged care and other specialty health care contexts.

The research is tailored to address the relevant issues within each organisation, aimed at solving the problems that they encounter, and the partnership brings together research across the entire network so all members can benefit.

We have a unique partnership network that is ideally placed to ensure the translation of research evidence into practice, policy and education. Our researchers strive to improve the safety and quality of health and aged care through applied health services research. The partnership between the University and the health services ensures that the research we undertake is clinically relevant and meaningful, addressing key priorities for the health services using a highly collaborative approach, which is the antithesis of the traditional "ivory tower" approach

Alfred Deakin Professor Alison Hutchinson

Director of the Deakin Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research and Chair in Nursing: Monash Health

Choosing Deakin as a partner

Deakin’s progressive, world-class nursing and midwifery researchers have established long-term relationships with network members over the past 25 years. Their combination of expertise as practitioners and researchers was a particular drawcard for network members.

Deakin was seen as knowledgeable, responsive and trustworthy and its reputation as one of Victoria’s largest nursing and midwifery schools helped establish its credentials.

A partnership with mutual benefits

The partnership approach has seen improved practices and guidelines in a wide range of areas, including pain management, complex, critical and emergency care, midwifery, aged care and dementia, amongst many others.

The development of a strong interface between research, education and practice has had a direct impact on the quality and safety of patient care and has built capacity in the health workforce. This means better outcomes for patients, including shortened hospital stays and reduced mortality and complications. Staff accountability and transparency has also resulted in improved staff satisfaction and better decision-making processes.

Successful projects with real impact

More than 40 different research projects are currently being undertaken through the partnership network. One example is the MyStay project, which has seen the development of multimedia tools to provide patients with evidence-based information and specific goals of recovery for their inpatient post-operative trajectory.

MyStay has reduced the length of hospital stay and improved pain management for patients using the program. Initially developed to aid recovery after knee and hip replacements, customised versions have now been developed and will be tested for patients recovering from cardiac and spinal surgeries, hysterectomy and caesarean sections at the Epworth hospital.

Our partnership with Deakin University is really what helps us to continually develop our nursing and midwifery practice and make sure it’s always embedded in the latest evidence. The partnership is a vital part of our research profile and works very closely to translate research into practice. I love working with Deakin University staff. They are leaders in their fields, approachable, trustworthy and responsive. Working with Deakin is easy, but incredibly rewarding.

Katrina Nankervis

Executive Director Residential and Support Services / Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Monash Health

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