Guest Blog Post with Susan Ievers, Head of Nursing for Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services, and Helene Ramsay, Vocera Clinical Support, at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
In April 2018, we opened a brand-new hospital wing at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. The new wing includes three new wards and is more than three times the size of the wards we moved from. Yet it is much calmer and quieter.
Making a move like the one we made – from a ward with multiple patients in a bay to a ward with single patient rooms – can be intimidating for a nurse. We were accustomed to working in close quarters with colleagues just a few feet away at a neighbouring patient bedside.
Within a single day we moved to a new space and introduced a new communication system. This could have been overwhelming for staff.
It took us six hours to move 35 children, 70 beds, and four wards full of equipment to the new wing, and it couldn’t have gone more smoothly.
1. Invest in Innovations
If we could offer one piece of advice to our healthcare peers building new wards or facilities, it is this: You are investing in a new building; don’t use out-dated technology.
Technology offers an opportunity to work more safely and efficiently and to improve the experience of patients and staff. It makes sense to build this in at the start, rather than try and include it later. Invest in innovations that match the state-of-the-art infrastructure you are building.
2. Agree on Needs and Priorities
When discussing a communication solution for our new wing, we agreed it was essential to find one that would make clinicians feel secure and keep care teams unified.
We knew the Vocera system could help us improve communication and get rid of the need for relentless phone calls and bleeps. We looked at other communication technologies, but Vocera technology met all the requirements, including robust integration capabilities.
Find technology that helps you preserve the valuable human elements that have been developed by staff during their time in a smaller working environment.
3. Look at Other Hospitals for Best Practice
When we began planning for our new build, we went to the United States to look at hospitals and see their communication solutions in action. We were blown away by how a children’s hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, used Vocera technology. We couldn’t wait to share it with our colleagues.
4. Provide Plenty of Training, and Support Adoption
Much of our success has been due to training staff before implementing the technology.
Two weeks prior to moving to the new wing, we trained everyone who would be using the Vocera system. This way, staff knew exactly how to use the technology on moving day, with the instructions still fresh in their mind.
We rolled it out to everyone at once and ensured someone with deep knowledge of the system was accessible to staff and overseeing the system. Helene Ramsay, our clinical support for Vocera, does this so well. She helps nurses with the Vocera Badge spoken commands and reinforces best practices daily.
There weren’t any kinks with rolling out the Vocera system, which made moving day seamless. The day we moved, we all began using Vocera. When the nurses and staff came in for their shift that day, they picked up their new Vocera Badges, signed in, and began communicating with the rest of the team.
Everyone – from housekeepers to nurses to leadership – is wearing Vocera Badges in the new wing. We realise that some people are more comfortable using new technology than others, and we need to support all levels of staff as they take on this new way of working.
Seldom do we hear phones ringing or nurses shouting down the halls because everyone is using Vocera technology to communicate, bleep doctors, and ring other wards. It’s fantastic! We all love it.
Since moving in to our new wing with Vocera technology, we’ve made the following improvements to communication:
Bigger Space, No Lines of Sight – Yet Better Communication
The new ward has 70% single occupancy rooms and is spread over a large area. There are no dedicated central nurse stations, only small touchdown bases. Despite the physical barriers and absence of nurses’ stations, nurses feel more connected than ever before because everyone in the ward is connected via Vocera. Everyone is only a button-press away from help.
When you’re in the ward, you hear nurses asking each other questions as they’re doing their work. They don’t leave the patient or stop working to connect with each other – they’re carrying on working and communicating at the same time.
No More Missed Calls
Prior to having our Vocera system, if the phones weren’t answered, they weren’t answered. Physicians struggled to get hold of nurses because nurses were with patients rather than at a desk.
Today, all calls to nurses are connected through the Vocera system. So, if one nurse can’t answer, the call will route to a support worker and communication isn’t missed.
Communication Integrated with Patient-Alert and Door-Entry Systems
Our Vocera system has the capability to integrate with so many of the other systems in our hospital, which was very important to us when selecting a communication solution.
The integration with Mediplan has been excellent in enforcing safety and security. One integration is with our door entry system. When families come to visit, they buzz the doorbell outside of the ward which goes through Mediplan and is sent to a specific user group’s Vocera Badge, to alert someone in that group to answer the door.
The patient call system integration has been very useful too, especially because we are so spread out now. When a patient pulls a buzzer in their room, the alert is directed to the assigned nurse’s Badge and tells the nurse in which room assistance is needed.
The emergency buzzer also connects to the Vocera system and alerts all the staff to the emergency.
Better Engagement with Patients – Easter Egg Fun
In addition to improving care communication, the Vocera system helps our caregivers engage with patients. Our nurses love using the Vocera Easter eggs – secret messages and jokes intentionally hidden within software code – with children.
A hospital visit can be terrifying for a child, and the Easter eggs cheer them up and are often used as a positive distraction. We love seeing the smiles these amusing interactions bring to our patients!
The sentiment about Vocera among staff is very enthusiastic and positive. After we introduced the technology, we could tell that staff knew straight away how much it would help their work and make their lives much easier.