TTSH nurses praised for designing mittens that help dementia patients stay safe

The Idea Hand Mittens, an innovation by the nurses of ward 5A at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. PHOTO: TAN TOCK SENG HOSPITAL
The Idea Hand Mittens are cushioned, zip-fastened handwear that offers easy access to patients' fingers. PHOTO: TAN TOCK SENG HOSPITAL

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

Such 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' - cushioned, zip-fastened handwear that offers easy access to patients' fingers - and on Tuesday (July 30), Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health, paid tribute to their idea, saying it was one of several "kampung innovations" which TTSH nurses have come up with.

"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 guest-of-honour. The celebrations took place at the Ng Teng Fong Centre for Healthcare Innovation, opposite TTSH at Novena.

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

Nurse clinician Ms 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 tubing despite the mittens. That's very dangerous and painful for the patient. It costs time and money to re-insert the tubes, not to mention added pain for the patients."

There have been no further incidents since the Idea Hand Mittens were introduced and feedback from patients' relatives and caregivers has been positive.

Such has been their impact, they were 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) "support nursing innovation and 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 added: "I hope they will be rolled out to the rest of the hospital, and eventually to the rest of the National Healthcare Group."

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