Training Requirement: Clinical Handover

Last Updated: 21 September 2023

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This article is part of our Training Requirement Series where we provide comprehensive guides to meet the actual training requirements that are often needed/requested of learning and development departments within Australia's healthcare organisations. This series includes both general requirements, such as clinical handover, but also focuses on the specific requirements stemming from the NDIS, Aged Care and NSQHS Quality Standards.

What is a 'Handover'?

A 'handover' is a critical juncture in healthcare where the continuity of care and treatment of a patient shifts from one team or healthcare professional to another. The objective is to provide seamless care by efficiently transferring all necessary information and responsibilities (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2020).

What is the Clinical Handover Training Requirement?

The aim of the clinical handover training requirement is to equip healthcare professionals with the skills needed to conduct handovers that mitigate risks and improve patient outcomes (Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, 2022). Without a handover process, healthcare workers are left in the dark in terms of the patient or clients current and prior history that should inform how they provide care.

Relevant Standards

Action 6.04: Organisational processes to support effective communication

  • Situations where structured clinical handover and communication of critical information are identified

Action 6.07 and Action 6.08: Clinical Handover

  • Set a defined minimum information requirement to be communicated for each type of clinical handover
  • Documentation and clinical handover processes are consistent with key principles for clinical hndover
  • Clinical handover policies, procedures and expectations are communicated to the workforce
  • Access to structured clinical handover tools are available
  • Support for the workforce, carers and patients is available for clinical handover

National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards

Requirement 3.3 (e):

  • (e) Documentation and communication of client's condition, needs and preferences occur within the organisation and those responsible for care

Aged Care Quality Standards

Action 3.3.2: Transition of care and communication:

  • d) Handover or transitions of care occurs between workers

Strengthened Quality Standards framework analysis - Aged Care Quality Standards

Failure to comply with the requirements could lead to an organisation being penalised or reprimanded.

Clinical Handover Skills Required for Healthcare Staff

Effective clinical handover requires mastery of diverse skills. Below containts the skills for clinical handover which informs the competency assessment criteria of staff or training plan development to fill knowledge gaps:

Skill Key Elements

Essential for conveying complex clinical information succinctly and clearly.

Active Listening

Necessary for assimilating all the clinical information without omissions.

Critical Thinking

Imperative for assessing, prioritising, and utilising the information passed on effectively.


Vital for ensuring smooth transitions and collaborative patient care.

Technical Proficiency

Competency in using the systems and technology used for documenting handovers.

How to Assess Staff Competency in Clinical Handover

Understanding how to evaluate staff competency in clinical handover is vital for quality assurance.

Methods of Assessing Staff Competency in Clinical Handover

Staff competency on clinical handover can be assessed in the following methods:

  1. Direct Observation: Real-time evaluation during live handovers.
  2. Simulation Exercises: A controlled environment to assess performance, typically followed by feedback sessions.
  3. Peer Reviews: Feedback from team members for a 360-degree performance view.
  4. Self-assessments: Encouraging professionals to introspect on their performance, strengths, and areas for improvement.
  5. Written or Online Tests: Quizzes designed to assess theoretical knowledge.

Strategies to Support Healthcare Staff Improve Clinical Handover Skills

Once staff competency levels are identified, targeted training interventions can be formulated:

  • Regular Training Programs: Consistent and frequent training sessions are foundational to enhancing staff skills. These should be both theoretical and practical.
  • Workshops and Seminars: These provide a platform for active participation and can be particularly effective when they focus on problem-solving and interactive discussions.
  • Mentorship Programs: Experienced staff can provide real-world insights and tips that can significantly speed up the learning curve.
  • Online Modules: These offer flexibility and can be tailored to fit individual learning paces and preferences.
  • Feedback Mechanisms: Mechanisms for regular and constructive feedback should be institutionalised. This will enable constant self-improvement and adaptation to new best practices.

Sample Training Plan for the Clinical Handover Training Requirement

Using the below image, we can craft a unique training plan to fill healthcare staff skill gaps.

Staff Competency assessment on clinical handover

Based on the results - "active listening" and "teamwork" are the skills that require actioning.

Quarter Topics Resources
Q1 Active Listening
Q2 Teamwork

Need clinical handover training for your organisation?

Contact Ausmed today and see how we can support with your cliincal assessment requirements!

Staff Competency Assessment for Clinical Handover - Example

The following is an example survey that learning and development coordinators may use to asses staff competency on clinical handover.

Staff Survey - Clinical Handover Competency

  1. How comfortable are you in conducting a clinical handover?

    • 1. Not comfortable at all
    • 2. Somewhat comfortable
    • 3. Comfortable
    • 4. Very comfortable
    • 5. Extremely comfortable

  2. Rate your ability to prioritise information during a handover. (on a scale of 1-5)

    • [Answer here]

  3. How effective is your communication during a handover? (Scale of 1-10)

    • [Answer here]

  4. Do you feel adequately trained for conducting clinical handovers?

    • 1. Yes
    • 2. Somewhat
    • 3. No

  5. On a scale of 1-5, how effective do you consider your last clinical handover?

    • [Answer here]


Effective clinical handover is not just a procedural necessity but a cornerstone for patient safety and quality care. By focusing on multifaceted training and competency assessment, healthcare organisations can elevate the quality of their clinical handovers, ensuring better patient outcomes and staff satisfaction.


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