Hospital invention

A trainee nursing associate has come up with a smart idea to help patients keep their belongings safe.

Alina Stevens who works for Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, had a simple idea to help an elderly patient who was anxious about her surgery.

Alina, 35, met Betty, a patient in her 80s, who was worried about being seen without her false teeth, as well as leaving her hearing aid and glasses behind when she was taken for her operation.

Upminster based Alina reassured Betty she would find a solution to help by finding a plastic wallet to keep Betty’s things together, attached to the bed sheets with surgical tape so it wouldn’t get lost.

It sowed the seed of an idea which, a year on, is set to improve care for other patients across the Trust, which runs Queen’s and King George hospitals and beyond.

Alina said: “As part of my training I go to university and was looking for an improvement project. The idea of creating something more substantial for patients like Betty had been swirling around in my head for months so I decided to run with it.

“Betty had been so delighted with what I managed to fashion for her that she kept using it on the ward. She even said if I ever did make more out of it, I had to call it after her, so I have!”

As anything she created had to meet infection control rules and be recyclable, Alina pulped two urinal bottles used in the hospitals and reshaped them into a small box, big enough for sensory aids such as glasses and hearing aids so patients do not have to leave these on the ward when going for an operation.

Next step

Mother of two, Alina added: “It wasn’t easy, my first attempt looked like a three-year-old’s art project. It was only when my mum suggested using a Chinese take-away container to get the shape that I knew I was onto something.”

Alina is now working with the Trust’s improvement team, The PRIDE Way, and Patient Experience team to find a way to make Betty’s Box available for all patients.

After she shared her experience at a recent national sharing and learning hosted by the Trust and welcoming the other four trusts which make up the Virginia Mason Institute partnership, she already has other hospitals interested in using Betty’s Box for their patients.

Alina finished: “I’m so excited to see where this leads as I saw what a difference it made for Betty. It’s nice to know my small idea can make a really big difference.”

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