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New S.A.F.E Sensory Area at Portlaoise hospital's Emergency Department

Portlaoise hospital

Fiona Moore, Nurse Practice Development Co-ordinator; Colette Conroy, Shift Leader ED; Sandra McCarthy, Dir of Nursing, Michael Knowles, l Manager; Maura Rice, Asst Dir of Nursing; Dr Asim Rafiq

The Emergency Department at Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise has a new secure sensory area in emergencies.

Officially launched on October 2, the hospital says the aim of the SAFE space is to reduce environmental triggers, minimising undesirable sensory stimuli for susceptible patients during their stay in the department. The hospital says the need for this SAFE sensory space was identified by the staff caring for vulnerable patients and will further enhance the care provided in the Emergency Department. 

 The Main aims of the S.A.F.E area:

·         The SAFE space will minimise undesirable sensory stimulation for susceptible patients during their ED stay.

·         The SAFE space will allow staff to create more individualised care for vulnerable patients.

·         The SAFE space will provide calming non-pharmacological mechanisms to provide distraction and decrease anxiety while will in turn increase compliance with medical examinations and compliance with interventions during their ED stay, avoiding medical management.

·         The SAFE space will advocate and enable an environment that is led by the patient’s own desires, rather than the institutions idea of care e.g. all patients must lie on a trolley/bed. MORE BELOW PICTURE.

From left to right: Breda Walsh, Staff Nurse; Joanie O’Shea, Staff Nurse; Maura Rice, Assistant Director of Nursing; Stephen Miller, Health Care Assistant; Udak Udoh, Staff Nurse; Louise Lynam, Health Care Assistant, all from Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise.

Michael Knowles is the General Manager for Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise said the commitment to ensuring the safety and comfort of our patients is a top priority for those in our care.

"With that in mind we have designed a designated sensory area with the overall aim of reducing environmental triggers which may increase anxiety or distress. This will enhance our ability to complete comprehensive assessments and examinations in a more comforting environment for patients leading to higher standards of patient care.

"The area will be individualised as much as possible based on each patient's needs and a variety of resources will be utilised to optimise patient comfort, dignity and respect for their condition or situation,” he said.

Sandra McCarthy, Director of Nursing for Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise believes that the space will help.

“It is well acknowledged how distressing a visit to the Emergency Department can be for patients, especially those who are vulnerable through a range of varied psychosocial factors for example, Dementia or confusion, Learning Disabilities or those in emotional distress with mental health issues.

"It is hoped the provision of the SAFE space will allow for an environment which acknowledges the needs of the individual and provides relief and distraction from possible distressing situations. By reducing an individual’s fears hopefully, this will enhance the trust that they have in their care providers and build on the therapeutic relationship,” she said.

The management and staff of the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise thanked the support and funding received from Midlands Nursing and Midwifery Planning and Development Unit in developing this SAFE space for patients. 

PICTURED From left to right: Joan Dembo, Advanced Nurse Practitioner; Dr Jayalath Saman; Dr ArunKumar Kasuppa; and Dr Asim Rafiq, all from the Emergency Department at Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise.

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