Admitting patients to the patient room of the future

An exact model of the future patient room has been put to use at the Medical and Geriatric Department at Frederiksberg Hospital. A lot can be learned from using the patient room in daily operations, instead of simply testing scenarios in a test model, which hospital building projects typically do.

Kirsten Jakobsen is almost blind, so she is fond of the light and privacy of the new patient room. Photo: Karen Grønkjær.

​There has already been a lot of input for the future patient room, which has recently been put into use at Frederiksberg Hospital. Some notice that the floor is slippery when it gets wet, others that the colour is inappropriate for patients with dementia. A bucket is placed incorrectly, the patient cannot find the light switch, many details from everyday life.

"If we had not discovered these things, we would, for example, have to move 580 syringe buckets once the General Hospital had been built. Add a skirting board, move a bucket, shorten a strip... It will soon accumulate too many hours work, if we had to correct it afterwards," says Hilde Schroll Jespersen, Project Manager from New Hospital and New Mental Health Bispebjerg.

The General Hospital at The New Hospital and New Mental Health Bispebjerg will contain 580 single patient rooms with self-contained toilet and bath. While other hospital projects test patient rooms in a so-called "mock-up", where different scenarios are played out, the Bispebjerg project has gone a step further and has built a real full-scale ward that is put into operation.

A special feature in the new patient room is, that the patient is placed so he or she can see what happens in the hallway, and the staff can easily get eye contact with the patient. Photo: Karen Grønkjær.

Tested by everyday life

"It's very interesting to use the new patient room in our department and being allowed to influence it. When you have a classic 'cardboard box model' of the ward, it becomes an artificial situation. Here the room is used on equal footing with other rooms, and we are evaluating it all the time," says Ward Nurse Kathrine Engell Herbst from the Medical and Geriatric Department at Frederiksberg Hospital.

The patient room will also be tested in different scenarios as a traditional mock-up. It is placed in a medical department and is therefore only used for a certain patient group. The other departments can suggest other things to be tested. For example, a patient with a rigid leg or cardiac arrest.

"In a classic mock-up situation, you typically either spend too much time or you might be too critical. When the room is in operation then you forget that it is a test. And the staff find little things that annoy them, but not until the eighth time they encounter them," says Hilde Schroll Jespersen, adding:

"We need to find out if there is something in the design that is problematic. But we can also learn to do things differently. Many have commented that the bathroom is too small, but the small room makes it easier for patients to help themselves because there is a shorter distance to something to hold on to. And the adjustable toilet can help get the patients up if the staff just get used to it. During the test period, we must ensure that staff get used to the new workflows and that they do not do crooked lifts and create a poorer working environment."

Kirsten’s ward

The staff at the Medical and Geriatric Department is happy with being able to test the room, and they are not alone. Several patients have also been very positive about it. Kirsten Jakobsen has been hospitalized for five days. She is almost blind, and is therefore very fond of the light in the room.

"For the blind and the visually impaired, light is very important, and there is a really good light here. I think the room works well and I am pleased that it is a single room. There are a few small things that need adjusting. The electrical sockets are too far away, for example. But then it is good that it is tested before the hospital is built," says Kirsten Jakobsen, who also hopes the patient room will be called “Kirsten”.

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