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Paper and digital Journey Boards educate youngsters and their families

Marj Abele, RN

Patient and family education provide essential information to help ill and injured children obtain independence and renewed health. Nurses at Phoenix Children’s Hospital developed Journey Boards to help their young patients and parents learn the essentials.

“It’s a playful, pediatric board,” said Marj Abele, MSN, RN, health education specialist at Phoenix Children’s.

Staff nurses invented the Journey Boards and created the content. It began about 10 years ago with diabetes education. Then the tracheostomy and bone marrow transplant nurses recognized the benefits and developed boards. The idea grew. Now, 21 Journey Boards exist, including “Our Journey in the Hospital,” appropriate for any diagnosis and an outpatient board. Patients and parents test a new board before it’s placed in general use.

Each clinical area develops its own teaching materials. Then the educators review the content to ensure it’s evidence based, edit it for readability, add teach-back points and send it out for a multidisciplinary review.

Fran London, RN

“Everyone gets a chance to participate in the development of it,” said Fran London, MS, RN, a health education specialist at the hospital. “We’re sure when the handout comes out everyone is willing to use it, because it reflects their practice.”

The colorful game-style boards are printed on letter-size paper and given to each family within 24 hours of admission. Each block on the board represents another topic the patient and parents must learn about prior to discharge. People can skip around and need not follow the blocks in order.

They also may zero in on their concerns or add their own questions.

“They can check off as they make progress,” London said. “The Journey Board lists the major points the family needs to teach back.”

Nurses teach the content from a guidebook containing teach-back points and resources, providing patients/parents more information. Once a topic is covered, and the patient/parents can explain the concept back to the nurse correctly during the teach back, the nurse can document that block in the electronic medical record.

Patients are leaving the hospital with families needing to provide more care than in the past, and the boards help facilitate the exchange of information with the healthcare team, said Abele, adding, “It can drive conversation.”

The Journey Boards incorporate everything research has shown to be effective in teaching families, whether stressed or have poor literacy skills, London added. The use of teach back helps ensure families are ready to go home with the information they need to succeed.

“The Journey Boards have brought us together in preparing families for how to care for their children at home,” Abele said.

In October, the poster, “Journey Boards: A simple concept that revolutionized an entire patient education infrastructure,” submitted by Abele to the Health Care Education Association Conference poster competition, was awarded first place, according to a hospital spokesperson.


[accordion title=”Journey Boards become an app” load=”hide”]Fran London, MS, RN, a health education specialist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital came up with the idea to convert the paper Journey Boards, which are used to help educate the young patients and parents about diseases and treatments, to an electronic format.

The hospital’s foundation applied for and obtained a $210,000 grant from Cox Communications to create the apps. Cox has since provided an additional $200,000 to place tablets at each bedside. In the future, patients and families will be able to use the app rather than paper boards, if desired, while in the hospital.

The app differs from the paper Journey Board in that it contains a tab with the teach-back points and resources for each box on the board. The app toggles between English and Spanish. The app also links to the hospital website, so parents can obtain the latest information on the topic. Parents also can take notes within the app.
“It’s adaptable to how people like to learn best,” said Marj Abele, MSN, RN, health education specialist, explaining that young mothers rely on their smartphones for information. They do not, typically, carry around a notebook. The app works on iOS and Android platforms.

“This is an app that facilitates conversation between the healthcare team and the patient and family,” London said.[/accordion]

By | 2021-05-07T17:35:32-04:00 October 22nd, 2015|Categories: Nursing Specialties|0 Comments

About the Author:

Debra Anscombe Wood, RN
Debra Anscombe Wood, RN, is a freelance writer who practices ambulatory care in Orlando, Fla.

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