Geoffrey Walker, Matron for Medicine/Specialist Medicine/Emergency and Ambulatory Care at Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and RCN Branch Chairman for Dorset worked to tackle dehydration.
Our A&E department is extremely busy and highly pressurised. Poole can get warm, particularly in summer months and like many busy workplaces, keeping hydrated is a challenge. Our staff were anxious about when they could drink and what was allowed. With such a high workload, nursing staff would often miss breaks. As management, we’ve never stopped nursing staff drinking on shift but inevitably leaving water bottles and cups of tea around did cause a mess. They were often knocked over and had the potential to be used as a weapon by patients.
My charge nurse Bruce Hopkins came up with the idea of sourcing water bottles that could be personalised with our hospital logo and the name of each member of staff on them. It was such a simple idea that as matron, I fully supported this innovation.
The base need of everyone is to be able to drink and with staff working 12 hour shifts, promoting health and wellbeing was important to us. These bottles not only look professional on wards but they show our commitment to encouraging staff to keep hydrated. Staff now fill up their bottles at the start of shift and are given these bottles when they join.
It sounds like a small thing but it had such major impact. We shared the idea on the emergency care network and several hospitals have since been in touch and have incorporated the idea themselves.
At Poole, we’re keen to empower staff to work to the best of their ability. Our ‘Innovate’ project pairs up staff with innovative ideas with a champion at senior level to help them deliver it. Often it is the staff working day to day that are best placed to understand the issues that need innovating, and that have the key to a solution, as Bruce’s innovation showed.