The Straits Times (26 April 2021)
Since 2013, nurses at Tan Tock Seng Hospital have been growing a culture of innovation to design and optimise products that can improve the lives of those under their charge. Shabana Begum highlights three recent innovations by the nurses.
Getting a grip on falls among the elderly
Senior nurse manager Loh Sok Hiang with a pair of Silver Generation Footwear, which is designed to be light and quick-drying, and comes with anti-slip features. Since late 2019, when the footwear was rolled out, over 900 inpatients and outpatients have bought it. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Senior nurse manager Loh Sok Hiang and a group of nurses felt compelled to design suitable, sandal- like footwear after coming across cases of frail elderly patients suffering falls in the wards and bathrooms, largely because they were not wearing proper shoes or sandals.
The footwear they came up with is white, with a reflective strap, so that patients can easily spot them in the dark.
More importantly, the sandallike footwear is designed to be light, with anti-slip features, as well as quick-drying.
Ms Loh, 44, said that some of the elderly patients were victims of road accidents, and were barefoot when they were admitted to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).
While some nurses, over the years, have taken the initiative to buy proper shoes for their patients, Ms Loh felt more could be done.
Work on the Silver Generation Footwear started in 2016 and, over three years, the nurses worked with a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist and a manufacturing vendor to zero in on the final design.
A critical feature of the footwear is the anti-slip base. “This is very important for the elderly because a main trigger of their fall was that their shoes had soles with little grip,” Ms Loh said.
Patients can buy the footwear for $14.98 from the hospital’s pharmacy. Since late 2019, when the footwear was rolled out, over 900 inpatients and outpatients have bought it.
On top of using the footwear in the wards and bathrooms, some patients use it during their rehabilitation sessions too. So far, no falls have been attributed to the Silver Generation Footwear, said Ms Loh.
ANTI-SLIP BASE FOR FOOTWEAR KEY
This is very important for the elderly because a main trigger of their fall was that their shoes had soles with little grip."
SENIOR NURSE MANAGER LOH SOK HIANG, on how the footwear helps frail elderly patients who were suffering falls in the wards and bathrooms.
AI ‘guardians’ alert nurses to patients who may be in trouble
Nurses are trialling a bedside alarm system that allows them to respond to patients more quickly by picking up abnormal beeps from medical equipment.
The artificial intelligence (AI) technology can be trained to recognise sounds that could indicate when machines such as non-invasive ventilators are malfunctioning.
It could prevent a situation where a nurse attending to a patient in an isolation room is unaware of a problem with a patient in another room.
The Bedside Alarm Recognition system is being tested in singlebed rooms of various wards at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).
It will set off an alarm outside the room if, for example, it hears a beep from an infusion pump that indicates the drugs being administered to the patient are not flowing into the body properly.
The technology picks up only machine sounds, so patients’ privacy is not compromised.
It was designed and developed by the hospital’s nursing division and a technology partner.
It is not the only AI-powered device that watches over patients at the hospital.
Thermal cameras installed in the patient’s room will send an alarm to the nurses’ station when the patient is about to get out of bed.
This can prevent patients from falling because the nurses will reach them before they leave the bed, said Ms Wendy Leong, 41, senior nurse manager at TTSH.
Other common fall prevention tools such as weight-sensing mats on mattresses will be triggered only when patients are out of bed, she noted.
The system, called PreSAGE, was “trained” with more than 11,600 hours of thermal camera data from 80 patients at high risk of falling.
PreSAGE is being used at a ward with 15 single-bed rooms at the hospital.
There are plans to deploy the system in all the single-bed and isolation rooms – comprising a total of more than 100 beds – by the end of the year.