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Quiet nursing key to patient recovery

Canberra Hospital
Photo: Canberra Hospital
Getting a good night’s sleep could soon be a part of the recovery process for patients at Canberra Hospital.

Nurses will work to reduce their noise levels and provide tailored individual clinical care, instead of routine care such as vital sign monitoring, medications and early morning ablutions, in a bid to improve patients’ sleep quality.

The hospital plans to consider a raft of recommendations after a study from the Research Centre for Nursing and Midwifery Practice at ACT Health found 41 per cent of the hospital’s inpatients reported a poor quality of sleep while only 24 per cent reported receiving a good quality of sleep.

“Sleep deprivation and sleep fragmentation have significant psycho-physiological consequences which in turn protract recovery and increase mortality,” the study states.

“The major factors affecting the patients’ quality of sleep are modifiable - improving clinical knowledge of sleep physiology, reducing ambient noise generated by staff and reviewing the timing of clinical care could all enhance the quality of patients’ sleep.”

Patients reported sleeping an average of 5.3 hours a night, 1.8 hours fewer than at home, and it’s little wonder why - the study found noise levels in the hospital’s clinical environments were 36.7 per cent to 82.6 per cent higher than the World Health Organisation recommended nocturnal noise levels of 30 decibels.

The study examined nocturnal exposure to disruptive noise, artificial light, temperature and humidity across 15 clinical environments including critical care, medical, surgical, aged care and rehabilitation, with 144 patients and 81 nurses participating.

Patients and nurses reported noise, such as staff conversation and activity, as the main cause of sleep disturbance, while care provision and pain were listed as secondary factors.

The report recommends providing staff with education on the importance of sleep in patients’ recovery and concrete measures to enhance patients’ sleep.

It suggests a review of the clinical design of wards and the use of medical equipment, where volume settings can be lowered, along with implementing noise absorbing fixtures such as perspex screens, curtains and doors.

Dimmer switches could also be used in a bid to reduce the impact of light on patients while maintaining safe work environments.

It also recommends the introduction of sleep assessment and monitoring tools into clinical practice to improve staff awareness of sleep within the provision of care.

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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords