Care providers driving linen improvements for patients

December 17, 2019

Picture 1: the former design contained a panel (middle of the bed, blue) that ran from the top of the bed to bottom.

Feedback received from Saskatchewan Health Authority employees during product training sessions has inspired a major improvement to fitted slider sheets.

A fitted slider sheet is a tool that makes moving patients easier and safer for health-care employees. The sheet fits right on the bed and contains a panel that runs from the top of the bed to the bottom (see picture 1). Health-care employees couple the fitted sheet’s panel with a repositioning sheet that they put under the patient to move them.

The two sheets glide together easily to slide patients with mobility issues to where they need to go. This simple and elegant design reduces employee manual lifting, which in turn reduces workplace injuries.

 

The Saskatchewan health system’s linen service provider, K-Bro, introduced the product.

“At K-Bro, we work to deliver the best customer and patient service possible. We identified a need for these fitted slider sheets across the health-care system, so we made them widely available,” said Jackie Belanger, General Manager at K-Bro.

This introduction was a monumental improvement. One day, when 3sHealth, K-Bro, and the linen vendor MIP were out on the hospital floor together, it became evident that the product could be made even better.

The sheet worked great for moving patients because of its panel. Yet, this panel went all the way down to the bottom of the bed where the patient’s feet were. Care providers pointed out that the same material that both created a more ergonomic work environment and helped move the patient could also cause heel issues.

Personnel from the three organizations noticed that care providers were using extra linens to solve this issue. Some examples included putting something under the patients’ feet or sewing extra material to the bottom of the slider sheet. While this work-around was improving patient care, it was neither a time- nor cost-effective solution.

“After seeing that in person, we were motivated to make the sheets even better for patients right away,” said Guy Woods, a Sales Consultant at MIP. “We came back with an improved design that removed a section of the panel from the top and bottom of the sheet.”

“Without getting to where the care happens, we would not have been able to make this improvement and continue our culture of continuous improvement for patients.”

In addition to solving the issue of heel sores, the new design (see picture 2) also resulted in two other improvements: it reduced unwanted pillow and patient movement. The panel that once ran to the top would sometimes cause the patient’s pillow to slide around. Also, trials showed that the new design keeps the patient in place better when care providers are not repositioning them.

Picture 2: in the new design, a section of the panel has been removed from the top and bottom of the sheet .

The new version will reduce the excess linens used to work around the previous design. Also, it is a cost-neutral solution, as the new sheets cost the same amount to process as the former ones.

Kimberley Powers noticed something unique when the staff at Melville’s St. Paul’s Lutheran Home received training for the new sheets: “Sometimes it’s rare for front-line staff to get excited about change in the workplace.”

“This time was different,” Powers, who is the facility’s Health Services Manager, explained. “The improvements really impressed the staff. They felt heard. Their concerns for their patients influenced the new version’s design. That recognition means a lot for front-line, daily caregivers.”

 

K-Bro will start to phase out the previous sheets and introduce the new ones in January 2020.

MIP, K-Bro, and 3sHealth will be visiting facilities in the Saskatchewan Health Authority to offer training sessions to accompany the new sheets – and, hopefully, to learn of more opportunities to make patient lives better.

 


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