Nicola Wheeler

A University of Plymouth graduate has co-designed a new care planning document, known as the ‘Tool’, for empowering care patients and helping carers to better understand their needs. 

Nicola Wheeler, who recently graduated as a Clinical Psychologist, has developed the ‘Person-centred Wellbeing Care Planning Tool’ alongside Occupational Therapist, Rachael Gardner.

Their Tool offers a person-centred approach to care planning which can be used in a range of care settings including residential and nursing care, and hospital inpatient environments. It encourages staff to focus on an individual patient’s wellbeing and think more about the factors which may impact it. 

Set out in a grid like format, its focus on enhancing wellbeing is quite different from existing care planning documents, and promotes individualised person-centred care. A particular focus is given to addressing the culture shift within care settings from more medical understandings of behaviour to recognising the impact of the environment and the wealth of factors which increase illbeing.

Thanks to its unique content and focus on wellbeing, the Tool facilitates easier routine care planning by incorporating personal care tasks, meal times, and life history, and has a list of questions and topics that add further detail to the information routinely recorded. 

Wheeler and Gardner began to develop their Tool while working on a continuing care ward for older people with dementia and mental health difficulties Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. 

They had already established new ‘resident wellbeing reviews’, whereby a review session offered staff designated time to think about an individual client and their care in-depth, and then realised they needed a way of recording these multi-professional discussions. The Tool was developed not only to do this, but also to maximise the benefit of the discussions and enhance care planning. 

Wheeler said: 

“A person’s wellbeing is defined as how they are managing in their everyday life. As multi-disciplinary healthcare professionals, Rachael (Gardner) and I appreciate that wellbeing is affected by numerous factors, including an individual’s mental and physical health, their circumstances, their physical and social environment, and whether they are able to engage in meaningful occupations.

“The Tool enables a rich understanding of a client to be developed, and shared with the whole staff team, so enabling all staff members to provide truly person-centred and consistent care practices. The Tool can be regularly reviewed and updated enabling detailed information to be recorded in an accessible and clinically useful way. Staff who have used the Tool have commented on finding it has increased their knowledge and understanding of clients, and as a consequence it has enhanced their job satisfaction. No other care planning document has this focus and format. We are very pleased to have the opportunity to share it with other organisations and care settings in the hope it will enhance their care planning too.”

Rebecca Holtom, Wheeler’s Clinical Tutor, said: 

"Last year, Nikki had a placement working in local NHS services for older people and used the Tool as part of a wider service development project with the aim of improving inpatient care for older people. It is really positive that it has been published, as the Tool has the potential to make a big difference to older adult care and care planning as well as to the training and support of care staff in many care settings. Well done to Nikki and her colleagues who developed it.”

The full research and analysis of the ‘Person-centred Wellbeing Care Planning Tool’ have been published in The Nursing Timesin a paper entitled Enhancing Clients’ Care and Staff Practice through Wellbeing Focused Care Planning.

Clinical psychology
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