Nurses’ strategies for overcoming barriers to fundamental nursing care in patients with COVID-19 caused by infection with the SARS-COV-2 virus: Results from the ‘COVID-NURSE’ survey

Holly V.R. Sugg, David A. Richards*, Anne Marie Russell, Sarah Burnett, Emma J. Cockcroft, Jo Thompson Coon, Susanne Cruickshank, Faye E. Doris, Harriet A. Hunt, Heather Iles-Smith, Merryn Kent, Philippa A. Logan, Leila M Morgan, Naomi Morley, Anne Marie Rafferty, Maggie H. Shepherd, Sally J. Singh, Susannah J. Tooze, Rebecca Whear

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: To identify strategies used by registered nurses and non-registered nursing care staff in overcoming barriers when providing fundamental nursing care for non-invasively ventilated inpatients with COVID-19. Design: Online survey with open-ended questions to collect qualitative data. Methods: In August 2020, we asked UK-based nursing staff to describe any strategies they employed to overcome barriers to delivering care in 15 fundamental nursing care categories when providing care to non-invasively ventilated patients with COVID-19. We analysed data using Framework Analysis. Results: A total of 1062 nurses consented to participate in our survey. We derived four themes. 1) Communication behaviours included adapting verbal and non-verbal communication with patients, using information technology to enable patients’ significant others to communicate with staff and patients, and establishing clear information-sharing methods with other staff. 2) Organizing care required clustering interventions, carefully managing supplies, encouraging patient self-care and using ‘runners’ and interdisciplinary input. 3) Addressing patients’ well-being and values required spending time with patients, acting in loco familiae, providing access to psychological and spiritual support, obtaining information about patients’ wishes early on and providing privacy and comforting/meaningful items. 4) Management and leadership behaviours included training, timely provision of pandemic information, psychological support, team huddles and facilitating regular breaks. Conclusions: Our respondents identified multiple strategies in four main areas of clinical practice. Management and leadership are crucial to both fundamental care delivery and the well-being of nurses during pandemics. Grouping strategies into these areas of action may assist nurses and leaders to prepare for pandemic nursing. Impact: As these strategies are unlikely to be exclusive to the COVID-19 pandemic, their global dissemination may improve patient experience and help nurses deliver fundamental care when planning pandemic nursing. However, their effectiveness is unknown. Therefore, we are currently evaluating these strategies in a cluster randomized controlled trial.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Early online date25 Apr 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Apr 2022


  • COVID-19
  • fundamental nursing care
  • nurses
  • nursing interventions
  • qualitative
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • survey


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