Nurses find way to cut glare, noise while on rounds

National Heart Centre Singapore nurses (from left) Abirami Nagarasan,34, Xiao Bing, 26, Siti Fidawati Jasman and Wu Wing Yin were part of a team that brainstormed for a solution to avoid disrupting other sleeping patients while they attended to one d
National Heart Centre Singapore nurses (from left) Abirami Nagarasan,34, Xiao Bing, 26, Siti Fidawati Jasman and Wu Wing Yin were part of a team that brainstormed for a solution to avoid disrupting other sleeping patients while they attended to one during their nightly rounds. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

When nurses at the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) attended to patients at night, those in adjacent beds would complain about not getting a good night's sleep.

The problem, said nurse clinician Siti Fidawati Jasman, was twofold: The bed curtains were not enough to block the bright overhead lights, and the nurses were making too much noise.

When surveyed last August, only 35 per cent of the cardiology ward's patients said they were able to get uninterrupted sleep.

"Patients can have their blood taken more than once in a night," said Ms Siti, explaining why nurses require bright light to see by.

"We need to do electrocardiograms (to measure heart activity), or help to turn immobile patients. In one night, we can attend to the same patient up to six times."

With these in mind, the ward's team of six nurses - including 36-year-old Ms Siti - began to look at ways to help their patients get better rest.

They searched pasar malams (night markets), petrol stations, and even made a visit to Sim Lim Square to find the perfect light source.

A torchlight mounted on a retractable rod was trialled, then discarded as being far too dim, before they found their ideal solution - a flexible lamp from Ikea.

"We went to all possible places to search for the light," said nurse clinician Wu Wing Yin, 38, who was part of the team.

"It has to be flexible, so that you can aim it at any part of the patient's body that you want to see better."

Working with the hospital's engineers, the nurses then modified the Ikea lamp so that it would easily plug into the laptop they take with them on their rounds.

To solve the noise problem, nurses now do their rounds in pairs, each carrying out one task so as to minimise movement into and out of their ward.

NHCS chief nurse Ho Ai Lian praised the team's initiative and attention to detail.

She said: "Nurses are often the closest point of contact for patients, so it is important that we listen to feedback on the ground and innovate where necessary to enhance their experience in the hospital."

After implementing the changes, around eight in 10 patients now say that they are getting a good night's sleep.

"We did a survey of the patients and more of them are getting enough sleep," said Ms Siti.

"We are planning to roll this out to more wards in the future."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2015, with the headline 'Nurses find way to cut glare, noise while on rounds'. Print Edition | Subscribe