The AACN created the Beacon Award to recognize individual unit caregivers who successfully improve patient outcomes and align practices with AACN’s Healthy Work Environment Standards, which include:
- Leadership Structures and Systems
- Appropriate Staffing and Staff Engagement
- Effective Communication
- Knowledge Management
- Learning and Development
- Evidence-Based Practice and Processes
- Outcome Measurement
The Beacon program’s 3 levels of designation – Gold, Silver and Bronze – set the standard for excellence in patient care by collecting and using evidence-based information to improve patient outcomes, patient and staff satisfaction, and credibility with consumers. For patients and their families, the award signifies exceptional care through improved outcomes and greater overall satisfaction.
After achieving 3-year Silver status in 2015, the unit had feedback from the AACN on strengths and areas for improvement. When they began planning for re-designation mid-2016, they did so with Gold in mind.
According to Katelyn Howell, PICU performance improvement coordinator, “We wanted to show we could go from good to great. We knew we had what it took to achieve Gold status back in 2015, but this time we could better highlight in the document the details of what makes us an exemplary unit.”
One of the reasons the PICU was better able to detail its data was the hospital’s increased use of informatics system-wide.
“As an organization we have gotten better at collecting, measuring and analyzing data and that allowed us to tell more of our story – both the problems and solutions,” said Melanie Brewster, clinical coordinator.
According to the AACN, the Beacon award recognizes caregivers in stellar units whose consistent and systematic approach to evidence-based care optimizes patient outcomes. AACN also holds these units up as role models to others on their journey to excellent patient and family care.
For nurses, a Beacon Award can mean a positive and supportive work environment with greater collaboration between colleagues and leaders, higher morale and lower turnover. Nurses who work in organizations and units that meet a national standard for excellence consistently report healthier work environments and express higher satisfaction with their job.
“We are a collaborative unit and achieving this award was a group effort,” said Melanie. “We take a multidisciplinary approach to problems and solutions which helps cultivate a healthy and enjoyable work environment.”
PICU Education Coordinator Colleen Cooper added, “We used the same multidisciplinary approach throughout the writing process to ensure we accurately highlighted some of our best improvements since our first designation.”
Patient outcomes showed fewer central line-associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, and unplanned extubations when using national benchmark comparisons.
Akron Children’s is currently the only PICU in the state of Ohio and one of 13 nationally to achieve gold recognition.