Researchers at the University of Hull's Faculty of Health and Social Care have made a breakthrough in developing an instrument to assess nurses’ contribution to the NHS. The April Scale, as it is known, was inspired by an approach known as vernacular modelling. Dr Peter Draper explains 'We noticed that in everyday life, people rate performance by relating it to commonly accepted standards. For example, the size of a place might be expressed in relation to the size of Wales. Alternatively the performance of a football team could be expressed relative to that expected of Doncaster Rovers on a wet Wednesday evening.'
|A typical nurse|
The April Scale results from work to find a similar way of defining and measuring nursing work. The scale consists of three sub scales, respectively measuring the size of the territory a nurse is capable of covering on foot in a month, an estimate of his or her intelligence, and the likelihood in any given year that he or she will pack in nursing for a job in a supermarket.
The research team has found a way of indirectly estimating the size of territory a nurse is able to cover without the need for direct measurement. Professor Roger Watson explains 'Whilst walking about the campus we have often noticed that district nurses' calf muscles are more well developed than those of other health professionals, due entirely to the miles they put in walking round the Bransholme estate. We realised that the circumference of the calf muscle is directly proportional to the distance a nurse is able to travel, and this led to the development of the Bransholme Index.'
|Professor Roger Watson|
The second sub scale is an estimate of intelligence. Intelligence is traditionally measured by the IBM 2 (Insensate Building Materials) test which expresses intelligence relative to two short planks, a widely accepted standard of mediocrity, although some researchers have achieved equally good results with the IMB 1, which relates intelligence to a single brick. Dr Peter Draper explains that the advent of graduate nursing meant a new approach was required. 'We know that nurses are amongst the smartest members of the workforce, and the smartest of all are those educated at the University of Hull'. The breakthrough came when the team realised that nurses' intelligence is directly proportional to the distance between their Alma Mater and the Hull campus.
|Dr Peter Draper|
The final subscale proved the trickiest of all. Large numbers of the profession are reported to be leaving for jobs in the retail food industry, and the team needed to find a way of estimating the likelihood that a nurse will prefer pushing a shopping trolley to a medicines trolley. This led to the development of the Lidl index. Blindfold nurses are led to a succession of trolleys where trolley behaviour is measured. Those that tend to put things in to the trolley are deemed latent shoppers, and are likely to end up in a supermarket, whereas these who naturally dispense things out of the trolley are much more likely to stay in the profession.
The researchers' current priority is to combine the sub scales (Area, Intelligence, and Lidl) into a single measure. The prototype of APRIL 1 is released this morning.