Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust – Safeguarding people with mental health needs in an inpatient environment
“New Haven has changed the way older people with mental health illnesses receive care and treatment in an inpatient environment. However, we found that we were experiencing high levels of patient falls, particularly during the night, and as a result needed to dedicate significant resource to observe patients. The telecare system has been great, it enables us to be there for patients when we’re needed to prevent falls, but otherwise nurses can be providing care rather than monitoring patients just in case.”
Paul Stokes, Assistant Clinical Practitioner, Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust
Supporting people with complex mental health needs in a purpose-built inpatient environment can help to inspire recovery as well as making more efficient use of acute services. However some of these patients may be at risk of falls or self-harming, requiring high levels of supervision.
How can technology help to safeguard patients as they receive treatment, reducing the amount of staff time required to monitor their wellbeing?
New Haven is a 30 bed, 70 staff mental health unit in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, which opened in 2013. The unit is fully equipped to meet the complex mental health needs of older adults by providing physical, psychological and emotional care and therapeutic activities which support the individual to manage their illness and ultimately to help them get back into the community.
New Haven has been designed to benefit people with varying degrees of dementia including Alzheimer’s, acute depression, acute anxiety and psychosis and is unique for a number of reasons:
- Each patient has their own en-suite bedroom, creating a ‘home from home’ environment and helping to ensure patients retain independence, privacy and personhood
- Courtyards and an allotment give patients the opportunity to enjoy time outdoors
- The unit has been designed with circulation loops, which allow patients to walk freely around the building reducing agitation, frustration and anxiety
- Art is used to provoke thoughts and to stimulate memory
- Utilising the existing wiring infrastructure, Tunstall installed a telecare system which uses Passive Infrared Sensors (PIRs) to monitor movement in certain areas of the ward. If a PIR senses a patient leaving their bed it immediately alerts staff on a pager, enabling them to attend to the patient and offer them assistance.
Prior to the telecare system being installed, the hospital was experiencing a number of patient falls, particularly during the night, due to patients attempting to leave their beds unaided.
Comparison of the number of falls experienced on the ward taking a 9 month period before the PIRs were installed and afterwards showed that, in conjunction with existing falls prevention measures in place on the ward and indidualised care planning by the staff, the new system resulted in a significant reduction in the number of falls.
There has been a noticeable reduction in the cost of agency staff needed to sit and closely observe patients overnight. It has allowed the staff to be more proactive in the care of the patient who is at risk of falling.
Using a telecare system at New Haven has proven to be an efficient and cost-effective solution to safeguarding patients.