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Keeping you safe

South West Healthcare is committed to providing our consumers with the safest possible care. Despite our commitment to providing safe, effective, high quality, person centred care, there are still risks when spending time in hospital. We also know that if patients are involved in their care whilst in hospital, they tend to do better and stay safer. By working together as part of the healthcare team you can lower your risk of injury and make your stay in hospital as safe as possible.

To help keep safe in hospital you and your family should:

  • speak up – if you have questions or concerns or if you’ve noticed an unexpected change in your condition
  • get involved – join the discussions and decision making about your care
  • be aware – understand the plans for your care, any test results and other important information. If you don’t understand something, ask a staff member to explain it to you.

If you have any concerns about the quality or safety of your care, speak with the nurse or doctor looking after you. You can also talk with the nursing unit manager or department head.

  • Getting the most from your treatment

    • Ask your doctor, nurse or allied health practitioner about your plan of care. Make sure that you understand and agree with that plan.
    • Ask a family friend or relative to listen with you when treatment, care plans, test results and discharge plans are explained to you. This will help you remember things later on.
    • Be informed about your treatment. Ask when treatment will be given and what they are for. If you don’t understand a treatment, have someone explain it again.
    • If equipment is used for your care, have someone explain it to you first, show you how it works and how it should sound if there are alarms.
    • Question anything that seems different from what you were told.
  • Identify yourself

    You will be given an identification band when you’re admitted to hospital. Staff may refer to it as an ‘ID band’ or a ‘wrist band’. It will include your name and date of birth, and be placed on your wrist or leg.

    You should:

    • make sure the information on the ID band is correct
    • check that you have a red ID band if you have any allergies
    • wear your ID band at all times

    Staff should check your ID band before every test or procedure and before giving you any medication. They will also ask you what your name is and other details, to make sure that the right patient is getting the right treatment every time.

    All our hospital staff should be wearing an identification badge. If you can’t see their badge, or you’re not sure who someone is, please ask.

  • Help stop the spread of germs

    The best way to help prevent infection during your stay is to wash your hands often and well. This also includes anyone who comes to visit you including family and friends, nurses and doctors. It is ok to ask health care workers to wash their hands before providing your care.

    Use soap and water or alcohol based hand rub to keep your hands clean.

    • Always clean your hands and ask others to clean their hands:
      • when entering and leaving your hospital room
      • before and after eating, touching food
      • after using the bathroom after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose.

    Other ways to help prevent infections during your stay:

    • Please do not touch or fiddle with your bandages, dressings or drips. This includes family and friends.
    • Do not delay telling your nurse if your intravenous lines (drip), tubes, drains or wounds become red, swollen or painful.
    • Always ask staff if they have cleaned their hands – this is especially important before they touch your wound or intravenous drip. Our staff will not be offended if you ask
    • Ask your family, friends or carers not to visit if they are unwell.
    • If you are prescribed antibiotics to take home with you, it is very important to complete the course until finished.
  • Medication safety

    Medication is an important part of your treatment. When you come to hospital, we will ask you about the medicines you take. Please tell us if you are using:

    • tablets from a pharmacist or supermarket
    • liquid medicine, e.g. cough syrup
    • natural therapies such as herbs and tinctures
    • vitamin supplements
    • medicated creams
    • puffers/inhalers
    • eye drops.

    You can help ensure safe medication use by:

    • bringing all of your medicines to hospital with you
    • keeping an up-to-date list of your medicines and showing it to our staff when you come to hospital
    • letting the staff know if you have had any allergies or bad reactions to medicines in the past
    • knowing the name of each of your medicines, what it is for, how it should be taken and any side effects. This is especially important for any new medications
    • asking what medicines you’re receiving and why ensuring you receive an updated list of medicines with information about each – what it is for, how to take it and any side effects to look out for before you go home
    • understanding which other medicines, foods or drinks to avoid when taking the medicine.
  • Surgery and your medication

    It is important that you talk to your doctor about your medications prior to surgery.  You need to understand if you should take your usual medication on the day of your surgery.  Herbal or natural supplements should be stopped seven days prior to your procedure.

    If you have diabetes, talk to your surgeon for a pre-operative plan before admission.

  • Allergies to medications

    It is vital that you also inform your doctor and us if you have had any allergies or previous reactions to medications, food or latex etc. and the severity of that reaction.

  • Preventing falls

    Falls are the most common cause of injury in hospital and can delay your recovery. Falling over is more likely in hospital because you’re in an unfamiliar environment and may be physically weaker than usual.

    It’s important that you, your family and staff all work together to reduce the risk of falls by:

    • making sure you can reach the call bell beside your bed
    • using the call bell to ask for help whenever you need it
    • calling for help as soon as you can. We will try to answer it immediately but if the ward is busy, it may take a few minutes before a nurse can get to you
    • wearing supportive, flat, non-slip shoes or slippers
    • bringing your walking frame or stick, glasses or hearing aids to hospital and keeping them close to you
    • turning the light on so you can see before getting out of bed
    • walking and staying active when family, friends and staff are there to help you
    • listening to the advice and recommendations of staff – recovering from illness or surgery takes time, and you might need more help with walking and getting to the bathroom than you realise.
  • Preventing pressure injuries

    A pressure injury, also known as a bedsore or ulcer, can form when you sit or lie in the same position for a long time. The risk of a pressure injury increases if you have to stay in bed, have poor circulation or you’re not eating well.

    A pressure injury can look like a reddened or blistered area on the skin. Bony parts of the body like the heels, tailbone, toes and back of your head are at most risk of a pressure injury.

    To help prevent a pressure injury you can:

    • keep moving, as much as it’s safe to do so
    • change your sitting or lying position as often as you can
    • look after your skin and tell a staff member if you think it looks or feels different
    • eat a balanced, healthy diet.

    We prepare a pressure injury management plan for every patient who will be staying overnight in hospital. Ask your nurse to explain the plan to you.

    Patients who can move easily are encouraged to move and change position regularly. Those who are unable to move independently are assisted by staff to change their position and ensure there is no prolonged pressure on any area of the body. We provide a balanced diet and a dietician may visit you to ensure you are receiving all the nutrients needed to maintain the skin and circulation.

    Additional prevention strategies include the use of equipment such as air mattresses and heel protectors to relieve pressure in areas of the body that may be of concern.

    It is important to recognise and manage pressure injuries early. They can occur quickly and prolong your recovery and impact on your general health.

    Early signs of a pressure injury can include:

    • red, purple or blue skin
    • pain
    • blisters
    • shiny area of skin
    • dryness or dry patches on the skin
    • swelling of skin over bony points
    • warm areas on the skin.
  • Eating well in hospital

    Eating well in hospital is important. It can help you recover from your illness more quickly and allow you to go home sooner.

    Unfortunately many people are at risk of becoming under-nourished when they are in hospital. Older people are particularly at risk. Many people also need help and encouragement to eat and drink, to reach their meal tray, open packaging and to ensure they receive the right food and drinks for them.

    You can help by letting the staff know which food and drink is not appropriate for you and what assistance you may need at mealtime.

    When you arrive at hospital please tell staff if you have:

    • lost weight recently
    • eaten little in the last 5 or more days
    • diabetes or take diuretics (water tablets)
    • difficulty chewing or swallowing.
    • special food or drink requirements due to:
    • allergies
    • special diet
    • religious or cultural beliefs.

    Please tell us if you take nutritional supplement drinks.

    At mealtimes ask for help

    Please inform staff of your needs as early as possible so that we can give you the care you need.

    Staff can help with:

    • filling in your menu form
    • reaching your food tray
    • opening containers
    • cutting up food
    • sitting upright at meal times
    • making sure that you have received the correct meal.

    Track your weight changes

    Ask to be weighed on admission and at regular intervals during your time in hospital as your weight may change without you noticing.

    Ask about other nutritional support

    We can bring you snacks or nutritional supplement drinks between meals. Just ask to see the dietitian who can arrange this for you. These are particularly important if you are having smaller main meals.

    Don’t forget to drink regularly. Aim for 6 glasses of fluid a day unless staff has advised you otherwise.

Page last updated: 17 December 2020

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