Getting a good night sleep is important, especially when you’re in hospital. That’s why Karen Taylor has been working with colleagues on the wards and in the Patient and Public Engagement team to help patients at the hospitals get their forty winks. “Sleep is understood to be a key and critical component of the recovery process,” Karen said when we spoke to her. “We all understand how sleep is important, but when you apply it into a clinical context, it becomes even more important as part of your recovery.”

Patient and Public Engagement is part of Patient Services, led by Lauren Berry at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals. It includes chaplaincy, arts, PALS and volunteering, providing a “one-stop” shop for holistic support for our patients and families. Karen is the lead for Arts and Patient and Public Engagement and works closely with Sharon Gurney, the Patient and Public Engagement Co-Ordinator. 

Their work covers listening to patients, understanding what they need and then leading change and transformation. Karen said her job involves  using patient data to identify concerns or issues and bringing patients and clinicians together to explore solutions

Before the pandemic, Sharon was reviewing data from the adult in-patient survey, which is the Care Quality Commission's annual report of patient experience. She discovered that sleep being disrupted was a problem for patients. “The survey was showing us very explicitly that 40% of our patients, like others across the NHS, experienced significant sleep disruption at night,” Karen said. The Patient and Public Engagement Team decided to do something to improve patients’ rest.

There are many things that can affect your sleep when you’re in hospital. Some disturbances are unavoidable, but others can be addressed, such as noise and light from staff or other patients. “What we discovered was quite a lot of the noise was avoidable. It might be footsteps, it could be closing bins or doors or talking,” Karen said.

Karen started by setting up a working group that brought together patients and staff across the organisation to tackle the problem. This group then identified possible approaches to reduce noise at night. “When you look at a problem from a multiple and diverse range of perspectives you come up with the best possible solution, and so that's what we did,” Karen said.

Together the working group came up with the Peaceful Night Pledge, which is a pledge from both patients and staff to work together to reduce noise between 11PM and 6AM. Karen took this proposal to the Charity and applied for a grant via our Patients’ Fund. We thought that the Peaceful Night Pledge was a great way to improve the stay of patients at the hospitals.

The Patients’ Fund provided finance for a designer to make a leaflet and a poster and for 5,000 packs to be sent out to staff and patients with details of the pledge. The packs contain ear plugs and an eye mask, along with the leaflet.

The Peaceful Night Pledge is launching across the hospitals in March. Karen hopes that helping patients sleep better will decrease recovery time, reduce costs to the hospitals and increase patient satisfaction. The pledge also provides tools for staff to talk to patients about how to get a good night sleep and not disrupt the sleep of other patients.

 “The Peaceful Night Pledge is a tool that says: ‘let's try and work together to find a way that more people can sleep more peacefully through the night.’ It's about saving time. It's about saving money. It's about people getting better sooner and getting home sooner,” Karen said.

The Peaceful Night Pledge is just one of a range of projects supported by our Patients’ Fund. The Patients’ Fund aims to improve the experience of patients at the hospitals through a range of small measures that help make patient life a little more like normal life.

You can find out more, donate or fundraise for our Patients’ Fund on our website below.

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