Project Description

Five Top Tips To Help You with Handover

An accurate and detailed nursing handover makes sure that all nurses can provide continuous care.

Handovers are designed to safeguard both patients and staff members from potential issues arising during care. Handover styles can differ depending on the care home or according to individual protocols and type of care being provided on the unit.

This is why it is important to understand the need and aim of a handover, so you can make informed decisions on what information needs to be shared.

The objective of nursing handovers is to give you the opportunity to communicate any problems or concerns.

You can also take the opportunity to discuss if a patient has any changes in medication that may affect treatment and determine any outstanding tasks.

Here are our five top tips for an effective handover:

1. Make it Concise

When providing a handover, it’s important to keep it concise.

Medical history has its place in a handover when providing context to an ongoing or potential issue, however may not always be necessary.

2. Follow a Framework or Checklist

Many care homes use a predetermined framework to standardise handover information. There are certain national guidelines which are now used that help to cover information which staff from the multidisciplinary team should be aware of.

The National Early Warning Score created by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is a simple tool which follows and gives priority to the physiological observations of a client and includes:

Respiratory Rate

Oxygen Saturations


Systolic Blood Pressure

Pulse Rate

Level of Consciousness

The NEWS format is a great way of ensuring you have a detailed, organised handover, but it isn’t the only framework out there.

The SBAR framework is another structured checklist recommended by the Acute Medicine Programme which underlines key strategies to use for the safety of clients in relation to communication.

It stands for:

S Situation

B Background

A Assessment

R Recommendation

The SBAR tool is not only useful for handover but for all aspects of clinical communication. It also helps the incoming nurse assesses the client more effectively and able to make a mental note of what tasks to prioritise and place first with individual clients. If you find it easier to follow another handover framework, make sure you cover all necessary information so residents get the care they need.

3. Ask Questions

When you are receiving a handover, it’s important that you have a full understanding of what is expected.

Asking questions means no stone is left unturned and can help a tired nurse handing over to you remember something they may have otherwise forgotten!

Don’t leave it to guesswork.

4. Maintain Confidentiality

Handover can be crucial to convey important information and make a real difference to the quality of patient care received. However, it is also important to remember that when discussing patients that  confidentiality still remains a priority.

In some areas, handover is done at the desk at the beginning of a shift, whereas others will perform this within the bays or at the bedside. Always remember to be discreet and ensure that private and confidential information is only heard by the appropriate people.

This includes remembering to safely destroy any written handover sheets – leaving private and confidential material on the bus on the way home is not what any of us wants to do!

5. Remain Honest

Nursing handovers requires honesty and accountability as it directly affects how the incoming nurse may adapt their care. Even missing tasks that you may think are insignificant, such as mouth care is important to highlight.

Handovers are a great way to ensure that you have identified and discussed the care nurses you have provided, what outstanding tasks needs to be completed and to ensure the safety and comfort for patients.