Rising to the challenge: Epilepsy specialist nurses as leaders of service improvements and change (SENsE study)

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Purpose: To report the leadership role and change activities of epilepsy specialist nurses (ESNs) in Ireland; findings from the SENsE study. Method: A mixed methods study design was used, involving 12 epilepsy specialist nurses working in five units in Ireland, 24multidisciplinary team members working with them, and 35 people with epilepsy and their family members. Data were collected using individual and focus group interviews, observation and documentary analysis. Results: Five key areas in which ESNs demonstrated leading on the change agenda were identified. These included: Initiating new clinical practice developments; Building capability within the multidisciplinary team; Developing education programmes and resources for people with epilepsy, family and the public; Exerting influence through membership of committees and lobbying; and Advancing the ESN role. Conclusion: Though the epilepsy specialist nurse role was first established in the UK in 1988, much of the literature that discusses or describes the ESN role is founded on anecdotal evidence, or focusses on their clinical expertise. Findings from this study provide empirical evidence that the ESNs were involved as key players in leading changes within the services, in the education of others, and the continuous advancement of epilepsy care.




Higgins, A., Downes, C., Varley, J., Doherty, C. P., Begley, C., & Elliott, N. (2018). Rising to the challenge: Epilepsy specialist nurses as leaders of service improvements and change (SENsE study). Seizure, 63, 40–47. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.seizure.2018.10.013

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