Small conversations a stepping stone to safer care

An older woman stands beside of a young women in a hospital bed.
A Rockingham Consumer Advisory Council (CAC) member with a Day Procedure Unit patient.
September 13, 2019

As World Patient Safety Day, 17 September, approaches a Rockingham Peel Group volunteer program is demonstrating how we make healthcare safer when we work together.

The program supports Rockingham General Hospital (RGH) Aged Care and Rehabilitation Unit patients with cognitive impairment such as dementia.

As part of the program, volunteers visit patients for a few hours each week. For many patients, this visit may be their only interaction with someone outside their immediate healthcare team.

“The experience of an elderly widowed male amputee with no close relatives has already shown the true value of this program,” said Safety and Quality Project Officer Kate Smith.

The patient did not feel safe leaving his room but with encouragement from volunteers, agreed to be moved to the patient lounge where a volunteer could talk with him.

”Initially he would be upset at his fading memory and would constantly ask the volunteer her name, but  after a few regular visits with the same volunteer, he began responding to questions quicker and even began to smile,” Kate said.

The defining moment was when the patient remembered the volunteer’s name without having to ask.

“Recalling this information and leaving his room for a few hours a week made this patient feel much safer and more comfortable with the idea of moving into a care home and the next part of his journey.”

World Patient Safety Day raises awareness of patient safety and urges people to show their commitment to making healthcare safer, together.

Displays at all SMHS hospitals will provide information on local and national patient safety initiatives, promote how we review and develop systems and processes aimed at eliminating avoidable health care related harm to patients, and the management of risks in health care.

The displays will also provide patients/consumers with information on the recently revised Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights, Choosing Wisely and other SMHS initiatives.

Remember to check out the display in D block, Ground floor opposite the RGH cafeteria on Tuesday 17 September.

To find out more about how we measure and monitor clinical indicators to assist us to drive patient safety improvements read Safety and quality of clinical care at SMHS (external site).

Follow South Metropolitan Health Service on Facebook (external site) and keep up to date with all the latest news at Rockingham Peel Group.