Page last updated at 15:13 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Technology improves patient care

Patient in hospital (generic)
Audio and video instructions for a patient's care will be provided

Researchers in Dundee will use the latest computer technology to improve hospital care for disabled patients.

They are developing an electronic system to record details such as when someone should be turned in bed or when they should eat and how often.

Audio and video will be used to give medical staff demonstrations of how the patient likes those tasks to be done.

The aim is to ensure those with communication difficulties get the best treatment possible.

It is thought the system could help patients with conditions such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson's Disease or learning difficulties.

The hope is that the patient, their family or carers would be able to add the details in from home or their day care centre ahead of hospital admission.

Researchers in the computing, nursing, health and social sciences departments of Dundee University will work on the project over the next three years.

NHS Tayside and Capability Scotland are also involved.

Researcher Suzanne Prior said: "A consequence of poor patient-hospital staff communication is that the patient's family often take on the majority of caring in hospital, performing all care apart from the actual dispensing of drugs, which can be very stressful for all concerned.

The porter who came to support her referred to her as 'it' which is not acceptable
Karen Graham
Capability Scotland
"For example, in a recent study, parents of adults with severe disability reported spending day and night in hospital with their son or daughter because of a concern for safe nursing practice, such as feeding and turning.

"The software will be easy to use and the information readily accessible to those who need it.

"This will hopefully alleviate some of the burden on family members when a patient with communication problems is in hospital and allow them to be more involved in the medical decisions surrounding their care."

Karen Graham, Capability's service manager, said: "We have had concerns when our service users are admitted into hospital that staff don't know how to support them.

"For example, when one service user, Miss D, was admitted recently to have a procedure done, the porter who came to support her referred to her as 'it' which is not acceptable.

"Then a nurse contacted our service to ask when someone was coming to feed her. When the team leader reiterated that Miss D was in their care now, she responded that 'they did not have time to feed her'.

"She was then directed to Miss D's comprehensive eating and drinking plan which would support her."

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