Noise pollution in hospitals is a major issue that can lead directly to poor patient outcomes. Some of these outcomes include decreased healing leading to more time spent in the hospital and an increased risk of acquiring a nosocomial infection, an increased risk of cardiac arrest due to elevated blood pressure, poor psychiatric outcomes stemming from disrupted sleep and anxiety, and the overall negative effects associated with long term hospitalization and short term sleep deprivation.
Noise pollution in hospitals has been demonstrated to wake vulnerable patients up from sleep dozens of times throughout the night. This is to say nothing about the once hourly checks performed by nursing staff that may awaken a patient from their sleep. The international standard for noise in intensive care units and emergency rooms is between 35-45 decibels. The World Health Organization recommends that noise levels not exceed 30 decibels over the night time hours. Sadly, noise levels in intensive care units tend to average between 60-62 decibels, with some maximum measurements reaching an astonishing 85-92 decibel maximum. Anything louder than 85 decibels has been shown to do damage to one’s hearing. This not only endangers patient’s hearing – staff are exposed to these noise levels for a far more prolonged period which may lead to workplace related hearing loss and associated disability.
Noise levels in hospitals are not going down, despite these recommendations and the dire state of affairs. In fact, noise levels have been rising consistently since 1960 during the night at a rate of 0.42 decibels per year. In 1960, the average noise level in an emergency room or intensive care unit at night was 42 decibels. By 2005, the average noise level throughout the night was 60 decibels in intensive care units. It is very clear that in an environment such as this, restful sleep can be next to impossible.
Noise pollution also has an effect on patient’s families. High levels on in hospital noise raise the already high stress levels felt by families and patients. It also makes it harder for patients, families, and staff to communicate with one other effectively. This can lead to patient needs not being communicated effectively to staff, and may lead to poor outcomes and overall frustration with the hospital experience.
Patient privacy screens like the Kwickscreen can help to mitigate these high levels of noise in conjunction with other measures that staff and administrators can take in the interest of patient welfare. Patient privacy screens can serve as a buffer between the patient and the ambient noises around them. Staff can also take measures to reduce the negative effects of excessive noise.
During the night, nurses can limit their interactions with patients during their rounds if it requires awakening the patient. Patient privacy screens like the Kwickscreen can be made semi-translucent, allowing staff to check on their patients during the night without needing to rouse them from sleep. Staff and administration can also assist patients throughout the night by enforcing a strict “quiet hours” policy during which they speak in more hushed tones and limit noise making procedures.
Noise pollution is a serious problem in America’s intensive care units and emergency departments, but it doesn’t have to be. Contact us today to find out more about how the Kwickscreen can help your patients.
Fixed privacy screens can assist staff with the difficult behaviors that are associated with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Dementia, and by extension Alzheimer’s Disease, is a progressive degeneration of the memory centers of the brain. Those afflicted slowly lose the ability to recall their short and long term memories, speak, and care for themselves. Their ability to perform basic activities of daily living becomes progressively impaired, leading eventually to institutionalization and death. Around 10% of all adults worldwide will go on to develop some form of the disease. While there are treatments that may slow down disease progression, there is no known cure.
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of Dementia, making up between 50 – 70% of all cases. The cause of the disease is not known, but there does seem to be a strong genetic correlation. The disease generally affects those 65 years of age or older, though a small subset of cases (4-5%) experience an onset of the disease in their mid forties or early fifties. Those suffering from early onset versions of the disease experience a worse prognosis than those who experience a normal onset.
The first symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of Dementia are almost universally ascribed to stress, illness, or normal ageing. It is important to remember that cognitive impairments are not a part of normal ageing. Short term memory is one of the earliest executive functions affected by the disease process, and can quickly and significantly impair one from performing their activities of daily living. Mild Cognitive Impairment is one of the first diagnoses that an individual can be given prior to a formal diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of Dementia.
Short term memory loss associated with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) generally progresses over the course of two to three years to clinical symptoms of early stage Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia. A decreasing vocabulary and issues with recalling language and syntax are one of the tell tale signs that lead to a definitive diagnosis of the disease. While a person at this stage does have significant impairments, they may be able to live independently or with some minor assistance from family or other caregivers.
Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive disorder however, and while some medications may be able to give the appearance of slowing the disease progression down, nothing can stop it in its entirety. Those with the disease will experience a progressive loss of short and long term memory, executive function, and ability to care for themselves. They may also lose the ability to be continent, to the great distress of family. Eventually, those with the disorder will be entirely dependent on others for their activities of daily living, mobility, and nutrition. Soon after this occurs, those with Alzheimer’s Disease may aspirate their food. They often pass away due to pneumonia or infection rather than the disease itself.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia can play a tremendous role in family and end of life strain. Caregivers can often feel as though they are invisible and beholden to their rapidly declining family member, leading to the phenomenon of caregiver burnout. Between the lost productivity of those affected by the disease and their associated caregivers, Alzheimer’s costs the American economy approximately 100 billion dollars annually. Families may find themselves under financial strain as well as emotional as their loved one deteriorates. This most often resolves itself in the institutionalization of the affected individual when families can no longer reasonably care for them.
Those who are institutionalized with the disorder are at a higher risk of behavioral disturbances and an increased mortality rate. There are a multitude of reasons for this, with one of the primary causes being an increase in confusion among institutionalized residents of long term care homes with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. Behavioral and psychological issues are common to those in the mid to late stages of the disease, where institutionalization generally occurs. The shock and confusion of losing ones home and independence can exacerbate these pre-existing problems and may lead to the genesis of further behavioral issues or symptoms of depression or despair. Wandering and aggression are common as well, and may be dangerous for the person with Alzheimer’s or Dementia, staff, or the community at large.
Caregivers and healthcare staff can develop a plan to ameliorate the behavioral effects of mid to late stage Alzheimer’s or Dementia. One such method includes the use of fixed privacy screens on locked or open dementia care units. Fixed privacy screens can be deployed with imagery printed on them that can be calming to those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Fixed privacy screens can do this through the use of evidence based art design. Images printed on the screens can evoke feelings of calm and peace in those afflicted by Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Fixed privacy screens can replace traditional hospital privacy curtains in resident’s rooms. Depending on the package that the resident or their substitute decision maker have chosen for their care, screens in the rooms of residents can be printed with imagery that reminds the resident of their former life. An easy example of this can be a photograph of the resident’s former bedroom, kitchen, or living area. This can serve to make the resident feel more at home when they are going through a period of confusion, and may reduce their propensity towards wandering. It may also serve to improve their overall mental health by reducing feelings of helplessness and depression. Fixed privacy screens can also serve as a safer alternative to traditional hospital privacy curtains, both in their role in reducing hospital acquired infections and in their overall inability to be moved by residents by mistake.
Fixed privacy screens can help your Alzheimer’s/Dementia or long term care unit. Learn more by contacting us today.
Patient interaction with healthcare staff is an important part of the healing process. Patients should be aware, from the start of their treatment until it is over, that their healthcare team is not only involved in, but actively interested in their long term healthcare journey.
The delivery of healthcare services used to be immensely paternalistic. Decisions for patients were made by their physicians and associated healthcare team members with or without their express consent. The view popular among healthcare practitioners of the past was one of paternalism and a perceived level of incompetence among patients. It was thought that patients could not possibly understand information relevant to their prognosis and treatment options, and thus those decisions ought to instead be made for them by trained professionals.
On a social level, physicians used to hold a semi-deified position in society. Medical knowledge was not necessarily publicly available, and patients would defer their judgement to their doctors rather than risk making a mistake. There was an expectation that patients would not participate in their care decisions. Patient interaction between the patient and their healthcare team was thus limited. Patient privacy and dignity was also commonly not much of a concern to healthcare practitioners. This is not new in the history of medicine. Patient interaction with healthcare staff was also not viewed as particularly important.
The end of paternalistic attitudes in medicine has been a slow, steady process. However, it has been incredibly positive for patients. Giving patients more information and more say over their unique healthcare related challenges and goals leads to better outcomes. Patient centered care has been shown to lead to more positive feelings between patients and healthcare staff, and is correlated with less usage of the medical system overall. It also tends to lead to lower stress levels among the healthcare provision team. Rather than working against the patient in a paternalistic, adversarial relationship, staff can work with the patient towards the same goal of restoring and maintaining wellness.
Hospital privacy screens can help to facilitate positive patient interaction. Plain printed Kwickscreens can be deployed into a patient room with dry erase markers. Patients can then use the screen as a form of artistic self expression, to leave updates for staff or family members about their unique signs and symptoms, or to make requests of staff while they catch up on much needed rest.
Conversely, staff can also utilize the screens to interact with their patients. They can leave notes of encouragement, inform the patient of the daily treatment itinerary, leave notes for housekeeping staff at the client’s request, or even give patients valuable tools such as pain or fatigue charts for them to use.
Patients can find themselves on their own for much of their day due to high patient loads and overcrowding in North American hospitals. Hospital privacy screens can serve as a valuable tool to facilitate patient interaction with staff and their support team. They can serve to give patients a sense of agency and control over their healthcare journey without a prohibitive cost to the institution.