Trusts in the East Midlands are importing a US nursing model involving hourly checks on patients, in response to harrowing stories regarding poor care of the elderly.
The move follows last month’s damning report by the health service ombudsman that claimed the NHS was neglecting the “most basic” human needs of elderly patients (news, page 7, 22 February).
The strategic health authority NHS East Midlands is sending all trusts in the region information about “hourly rounding” in response to last month’s damning Health Service Ombudsman report on care of older patients.
The initiative involves nurses proactively visiting patients on an hourly basis, on top of their usual duties. US studies have shown it can slash patient buzzers use and halve falls.
Nottingham University Hospitals Trust has been piloting the model and last week demonstrated it to officials from the SHA and Department of Health.
Head and necks directorate matron Andrew Riley said: “Cynics say ‘we’ve always done this’ but we’ve not done it in a structured way before.
“Patients say the ward felt more therapeutic because there wasn’t that chaos of buzzers going off constantly.”
Over three months, buzzer usage dropped by 66% across two wards. Among ophthalmology patients, there was a 100% reduction in calls from patients needing the toilet.
The trust is spreading the model to other wards in the hope it will also help to reduce falls and pressure ulcers.
Trust assistant director of nursing Kerry Bloodworth said: “This is about having a dialogue with patients and…nursing staff becoming more visible. Nursing staff can encourage patients to drink, or to change their position to prevent pressure ulcers.”
Some wards, for example where patients are younger and do not want to be disturbed, have decided to carry out rounds every two hours.
But Ms Bloodworth said more regular rounds were reassuring to older patients, particularly those with dementia.
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