Building resilient nursing organisations

Case Study Submitted by: Japanese Nursing Association
Country: Japan

In the face of COVID-19, the Japanese Nursing Association (JNA) examined the situation of nurses fighting on the frontlines in various settings, identified issues and made four recommendations regarding the future of society:

  1. A society where “new lifestyles” spread – nurses help people to live with “new lifestyles”
  2. Ensuring a stable healthcare delivery system that can respond to the spread of infection and emergencies
  3. Ensuring a safe and secure society by minimizing the spread of infection – the key to preventing the spread of infection is the expertise of nurses
  4. Creating a society in which everyone can live healthy and be active both mentally and physically – creating a healthy society through the power of nursing.

Based on these recommendations, and in the midst of the ongoing nationwide epidemic of COVID-19, JNA supported the establishment of resilient organisations that allow nursing to demonstrate strength, play a role under any circumstance, and ensure a future healthcare system.

In order to protect healthcare in the community and support people’s health and healthcare, JNA undertook measures to secure nurses from both the quantitative and qualitative perspectives. The association facilitated the training of nurses with a high expertise in infection control. The training enabled healthcare facilities with less than 200 beds, where nurses with high expertise in infection control were not available, to secure the title of Certified Nurse in Infection Control. JNA also established a system to help nurses update their professional knowledge and skills and be fully competent to work. The association thereby strengthened the foundation of nursing qualifications of all nurses, including the unemployed, in terms of both quantity and quality.

JNA also developed infection prevention and management support tools to dispatch expert nurses and nurse administrators to small- and medium-sized hospitals and facilities for the elderly. The tools included checklists for the behaviour and attitude of the supporters and the infection control measures that should be customised and implemented at each facility in accordance with the phase of the pandemic, taking into consideration the differences in healthcare delivery in these small- and medium-sized hospitals and facilities for the elderly compared to large-scale hospitals. The support tools were developed as a result of JNA’s consultation service on infection control which made clear that healthcare facilities lacking nurses specialised in infection control faced more challenges for COVID-19 infection control measures. Through Prefectural Nursing Associations, JNA provided support to these facilities through visits, e-mails and telephone calls as well as on-site guidance by highly specialized nurses to improve infection prevention measures using the support tools.

In Japan, the expansion of COVID-19 resulted in a shortage of nurses in certain areas. As a countermeasure, a system for dispatching nurses, called the “Infectious Diseases Relief Nurse” system, was established with the involvement of the government to support nurses in the fight against infectious diseases. This system is based on the dispatch of nurses at the time of disasters. If the demand from healthcare facilities – and accommodation facilities for mild cases – exceeds the supply of nurses within the prefecture due to the surge in infection, a system is in place to dispatch nurses from other prefectures. “Infectious Diseases Relief Nurse” is intended to respond to the expansion of COVID-19. However, the experience and achievements of this system are, of course, expected to provide some inputs for securing the nurses needed in the community and maintaining the healthcare delivery system in the future.

JNA believes that we must ensure access to healthcare services under any circumstances through providing competent nursing wherever people need it. JNA’s efforts were introduced with the mutual support of its nurses. However, this support depends on the strengthening of the mental health support system for nurses and the correct understanding and economic evaluation of nurses in society, which is the basis for building a highly resilient organisation.

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