TTSH nurses lauded for mittens that help patients

The new mitten has a zip to allow nurses to access a patient's fingers to take blood tests or check his vital signs.
The new mitten has a zip to allow nurses to access a patient's fingers to take blood tests or check his vital signs.PHOTO: TAN TOCK SENG HOSPITAL

Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) patients with dementia and delirium are given a hand in staying safe - wearing special pairs of mittens designed by nurses there.

Some mental conditions can often cause patients to become agitated or restless and pull out their tubes and catheters.

In May last year, nurses from Ward 5A came up with their Idea Hand Mittens, which are cushioned, zip-fastened hand gear that offers easy access to patients' fingers.

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health, yesterday paid tribute to their idea, saying it was one of several "kampung innovations" which TTSH nurses have invented.

"Healthcare innovation brings new and more effective ways of solving problems. But it does not necessarily entail complex projects involving advanced technology such as augmented reality," said Dr Khor. "Often, all it takes is having a fresh look at how things can be done differently."

Dr Khor was speaking at TTSH's Nurses' Day celebrations, where she was the guest of honour. The celebrations took place at the Ng Teng Fong Centre for Healthcare Innovation, opposite TTSH in Novena.

An earlier version of the mittens, which used a Velcro fastener, was not successful as patients could still pull them off.

Nurse clinician Zhou Aijin, who led the Idea Hand Mittens project, told The Straits Times: "Last year, there were six cases of patients who pulled out their tubings despite the mittens. That's very dangerous and painful for them. It also costs time and money to reinsert the tubes."

There have been no further incidents since the new mittens were introduced, and feedback from patients' caregivers has been positive.

Such has been their impact that the mittens have even been displayed during the Singapore Design Week as an example of point-of-care innovation.

Ms Tan Tzuu Ling, senior nurse manager at TTSH, said the hospital's governance councils (GCs) "provide oversight for nursing ground-up innovative ideas".

She added: "The GCs accept idea submissions from nurses, and run regular clinic sessions for them to present their ideas to get support or seed funding. They then follow up on the progress of the idea and plan for spread if applicable."

The nurses are still piloting and finding ways to improve the mittens. Ms Zhou said: "I hope they will be rolled out to the rest of the hospital, and eventually, to the rest of the National Healthcare Group."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2019, with the headline 'TTSH nurses lauded for mittens that help patients'. Print Edition | Subscribe