Southampton nurses develop Baywatch-inspired safety programme

Nurses at Southampton’s teaching hospitals have taken inspiration from the beaches of California to help further reduce the number of preventable falls among older patients.

In an innovative move, the patient safety team at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust has enlisted the help of popular American drama series Baywatch to launch its new safety initiative – ‘bay watch’.

The project, which includes information materials printed in the famed red and yellow combination synonymous with the era of David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson, is designed to ensure uninterrupted monitoring of vulnerable patients in a dedicated area on the ward 24 hours day.

Staff refer to a six-point list which stipulates the rules to be adhered to on the designated bay – though donning red lycra isn’t one of them.

The points include the nurse-in-charge designating any bay on the ward a ‘bay watch’ zone and reviewing which patients would benefit, ensuring a ‘bay watcher’ is always present to prevent falls during the day and night and that they are not a member of staff on a drugs round.

The ‘bay watcher’ must position themselves to enable maximum observation at all times, assess if it is safe to provide care behind curtains or if they require support, be identifiable at all times by wearing a lanyard and rotate every hour if clinically appropriate.

Staff, patients and visitors are made aware of a bay under continuous monitoring via a poster on closed doors which details the process in a similar way to signage indicating a ward closed due to infection prevention.

The project is currently subject to a pilot study on two medicine for older people wards at Southampton General Hospital and, depending on its success, could be rolled out across the department in the coming months.

“Following some of the problems being witnessed on our wards, such as staff quickly stepping out of bays where patients are being observed in and colleagues disturbing the staff members trying to watch over their patients, we looked at how we could combat those issues,” explained Juliet Pearce, head of patient safety at UHS.

“The idea with the ‘bay watch’ model is to strengthen and enhance some of the work, such as the cohorting of vulnerable patients, which already exists while adding a bit of 1980s fun to teaching sessions to increase engagement in the project – though red lycra is not a requirement here!”

In the first month of the project, one ward saw just two falls – one which happened when the ‘bay watcher’ was disturbed and the other a patient who had not been selected to move to the ‘bay watch’ bay for constant observation.

Ms Pearce added: “We are really pleased with the initial results and the positive way in which the campaign has been adopted, but it is early days and we obviously need to continue working towards our goal of trying to eliminate all preventable falls in this patient group.”

Gail Byrne, director of nursing at UHS, said: “This is precisely the type of innovative idea we want to see more of – something which engages staff, patients and visitors while helping us to improve safety for vulnerable patients.”

Posted on Monday 26 September 2016