Nurses at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth are taking a fresh approach to making sure that patients have a better chance of getting a good night’s sleep.
Researchers carried out audits on 27 wards at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust to identify potential factors that could improve the amount of quality sleep for patients – particularly focusing on light and noise.
“There is an association between hospital admission and sleep deprivation”
Once the researchers had collected their findings they shared the results with ward staff and encouraged them to modify their practice to try to reduce noise levels.
Recommendations included turning phone and call bell volumes down – for example, to half the day-time level – ensuring doors are closed before using noisy equipment, such as the dishwasher or macerator, and thinking twice before switching on bay lights for clinical care.
Others ideas included turning off the bedside TV, considering timing of observations to maximise sleep time, considering eye masks and ear plugs for patients, and purchasing noise monitoring equipment to increase staff awareness of the level of noise generated.
A follow up audit revealed that nurses were now helping to reduce noise and light levels, said the trust.
For example, it said staff on one care of the elderly ward had made an extra effort to turn the lights off even earlier than the recommended time, as they have noticed a great difference in the sleep patterns of their confused patients.
In addition, individual nurses were adopting different strategies for specific patients. A further audit is planned within six months.
Devon nurses working to improve sleep for patients
Sue Johnson, the trust’s head of nursing, said: “We want to thank all the ward staff for the changes they have put in place and the positive impact this has had for our patients.
Carol Hewart, senior sister for the acute care team, and Loveday Fethney, sister and clinical educator, supported the work, which has been published in the journal Nursing Management.
Ms Hewart said: “Research suggests there is an association between hospital admission and sleep deprivation, and that when patients do manage to sleep it is often interrupted and therefore poor quality.
“On top of this, patient feedback questionnaires show that lack of sleep, due to hospital noise, is detrimental to recovery,” she added.