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Missing Walking Belts and Sticks

Western Sydney Local Health District
Project Added:
13 May 2016
Last updated:
17 October 2016

Missing Walking Belts and Sticks

Summary

Blacktown Hospital implemented a number of processes to track the use and improve the storage of walking belts and sticks in the Stroke and Aged Care Ward.

Aim

To reduce the number of missing walking belts and sticks from the Stroke and Aged Care Ward at Blacktown Hospital by 85%, by March 2016.

Benefits

  • Reduces the costs associated with replacing missing walking belts and sticks.
  • Improves staff efficiency, as they spend less time looking for equipment to treat patients.
  • Reduces delays in treatment, which can in turn reduce length of stay and streamline discharge processes.
  • Improves the safety of the patient by ensuring they have access to appropriate equipment during physiotherapy treatment.

Background

Walking belts and sticks are essential for the rehabilitation of stroke and aged care patients. Walking belts (also known as pelican belts) are applied around the patient’s waist and give staff a secure handle to hold onto when helping them walk or move around the hospital. It also reduces the risk of injury for both patients and staff. Walking sticks are used by patients who experience difficulty with walking due to pain or balance problems and can reduce the risk of falls.

Anecdotal feedback in 2015 showed that many walking belts and sticks in the Stroke and Aged Care Ward at Blacktown Hospital were misplaced or lost, causing frustration among staff. Discussions with staff identified a number of reasons for the missing equipment:

  • staff didn’t put the equipment back on the hook after treatment
  • staff assumed the equipment belonged to the patient
  • equipment was taken home deliberately by patients or carers
  • broken hooks prevented equipment from being stored correctly
  • there were no hooks in the infection control room
  • equipment was taken to other wards by mistake
  • equipment was accidentally left somewhere on the ward by the patient
  • equipment was taken home by patients or carers by mistake
  • equipment was left in the patient’s bedside table during cleaning.

An audit in October 2015 showed a loss of six walking belts and eight walking sticks in nine months. The loss of equipment caused staff to become less efficient as they had to look for replacements, resulting in delays to treatment and an increased length of stay. Replacing the equipment on a regular basis also placed an unnecessary financial burden on the service. There was also a risk to patient and staff safety, when alternative equipment needed to be used during physiotherapy treatment.

Graph showing common misplacement of equipment

Implementation

  • Hook stations and storage boxes were placed in the Stroke and Aged Care Ward and infection control rooms at Blacktown Hospital.
  • Signs were placed above the hook stations and storage boxes, prompting users to return walking belts and sticks once the therapy session was complete.
  • Walking sticks were colour coded so they could be easily identified by staff and returned to the right place.
  • A sign-in and sign-out form was placed next to each hook station and storage box, so each piece of equipment could be tracked back to the individual who used it last.
  • All walking belts and sticks were numbered and monthly audits conducted.

The colour-coded walking belts hanging in place

Project status

  • Sustained - the initiative has been implemented and is sustained in standard business.

Key dates

  • September 2015 – March 2016

Implementation sites

  • Blacktown & Mt Druitt Hospitals, Western Sydney Local Health District

Partnership

Results

  • A monthly audit between September 2015 and March 2016 showed a 100% reduction in the loss of walking belt and walking sticks, with no missing walking belts and three walking sticks retrieved.
  • A staff survey conducted in November 2015 showed 97% of staff agreed that having a belt station made it easier to find the appropriate belt and 91% agreed that the project was successful in preventing the loss of equipment.
  • The project resulted in savings of approximately $17,182 in staff wages, due to improved efficiency from not having to look for walking belts and sticks.
  • The project has now been implemented in other wards at Blacktown & Mt Druitt Hospitals, where missing equipment impacts the care provided to patients.

Lessons learnt

  • Small projects can have a big impact on service, staff and patients.
  • The outcome reinforced the importance of a collaborative approach by all team members.

Contact

Bachar Khaddaj
A/ Physiotherapy and Therapy Assistant Team Leader
Rehabilitation and Aged Care
Blacktown & Mt Druitt Hospitals
Western Sydney Local Health District
Phone: 02 8670 552
bachar.khaddaj@health.nsw.gov.au

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