TO TASK SHIFT OR TASK SHARE DURING THE PANDEMIC? II

Navigating nurse burnout in response to COVID-19 - MedCity News

I got a lot of feedback from last week’s post https://meshrn.blogspot.com/2020/06/to-task-shift-or-task-share-during_1.htmlabout impact of the strategies. Impact on staff output, policy formation, strengths and weaknesses and overall effects to quality of health outcomes.

Task shifting is practical in areas where there are few health workers. This is the case in many primary healthcare centers. The nurse here works as the clinician, laboratory technician, and pharmacist and does nursing tasks. This puts a lot of strain on the nurse and can lead to burn out over time. Burnout reduces effectiveness of work output. Performing tasks which are not your primary training affects quality of work as you rely on minimal training.

On the other side, task shifting ensures continuity of health service delivery. This is in areas with huge staff shortages. It ‘solves’ the problem of staff shortage in the healthcare system. The important question would be where to balance between quality of service offered and staff competency. Health is a business, so resources are involved.

Task sharing is the ideal concept of human resource in healthcare. It is where you have all members of the health care team. Everyone wants to work in such setups as they have high quality service returns. However, these set-ups are few and far between. They are found in level 6 hospitals or teaching hospitals. A lot of resources will be needed to sustain the model.

Policies should be developed to increase staff numbers and capacity build. Health is a business where resources are scarce, affecting staffing. There should be clear policies guiding task shifting. It should be clear what minimal competencies you need to task shift to ensure quality. Key performance indicators should be developed to monitor quality of the shifted tasks.

It is important to do a needs assessment of facilities. This enables a case by case implementation of the models as you cannot apply a blanket measure for all. The gaps identified are then used to choose which model best serves the facility. Some may need either one while others may need a high breed model of the two. Keep in mind that quality of service provided is proportional to staff competencies.

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