Lessons from the USA and Australia in tracheostomy care

Published: 18 Apr 2016

Author: Gavin Straffon
Lessons from the USA and Australia in tracheostomy care

Gavin Straffon is a physiotherapist at Nottingham University Hospital (NUH). He recently spent eight weeks travelling throughout the USA and Australia, studying the effects of a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) approach to tracheostomy care, and the physiotherapist’s role within that team.

Gavin’s travels were enabled by a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship award, in partnership with the Burdett Trust for Nursing.

A tracheostomy is a procedure where an airway is created in a patient’s trachea (wind-pipe), in order to bypass an obstruction or enable artificial ventilation. It is estimated that at least 12,000 tracheostomies are performed in UK hospitals every year. However, in recent years it has been shown that management and care of tracheostomy patients has been falling short.

Gavin was awarded a Travelling Fellowship in order to investigate the potential benefits of the MDT approach, which emphasises cohesive and coordinated care. This is as opposed to a multidisciplinary care approach, through which a patient is seen by professionals of many different disciplines at separate times with separate goals.

He visited hospitals throughout Australia and the USA which currently employ an MDT approach. These included Boston Hospital, Massachusetts, which is renowned for its tracheostomy care programmes. He gained valuable knowledge in how to combat the problems involved in the management of these patients, as well as exploring the role and position of a physiotherapist within this service.

 “In times when the NHS is being forced to make cost savings and yet is still expected to deliver better care to our patients, projects and strategies like this are key to sustaining our health care system and hospitals for the future. Co-ordinated care and improved education can have a major impact on the patient’s quality of life and family understanding, as well as reduced stays on critical care units, fewer clinical incidences and significant financial savings.” –Gavin Straffon

As well as adapting his personal care towards this patient group, Gavin will also be working alongside his colleagues in helping improve the way that tracheostomy care is managed at NUH, and throughout the UK, ideally replicating some of the success of other hospitals.

Following his Fellowship, NUH have now granted Gavin some time away from his clinical role to assist their National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) implementation group in auditing current practice.

Read Gavin’s report here.

Notes to Editors:

Contact: Gavin.Straffon@nuh.nhs.uk

Gavin’s blog

The Burdett Trust

The aim of the partnership is to improve the health and well-being of patients, a key element of the Medicine, Health & Patient Care category. The Burdett Trust makes grants in support of nurse-led projects, using its funds to empower nurses and make significant improvements to the patient care environment.