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Innovative Nurse Call System for Berkshire Hospice

This article was published in Health Estate Journal (HEJ) – Journal of the Institute of Healthcare and Engineering and Estate Management (March 2022 Volume 76 Number 3)

Thames Hospice’s new-build £22 million hospice, located on an eight-acre site by Bray lake in Maidenhead, features a specially adapted Austco nurse call system that allows patients to call for a nurse via an Amazon Echo (‘Alexa’) system, rather than having to press a button. 

Initially the company’s standard nurse call system was installed as part of the construction of the hospice, which opened in October 2020. However, following a visit to Austco’s demonstration facility, staff saw an innovation they believed was a ‘must have’ for their patients. 

Austco Communications Solutions Specialist explained: “Our engineers integrated our Tacera solution with Amazon Echo system to allow patients to call for a nurse. The usual buttons/handsets etc are still there, but the convenience – particularly for patients that may not have the strength to press a button – enables nurses to be alerted should the patient need them. All the patients have to do is call out ‘Alexa, help,’ and a call for that room is raised on the nurse call system. The entertainment system interprets  the command, and, when recognised, sends a signal to the nurse call system. The two systems work together so that the source of the command can be translated into an alarm for the correct room. The call appears on the system as if the patient had pressed the call button. On entering the room, the nurse presses the ‘presence’ button, and can cancel the alarm from there. Patients also get the usual entertainment options the system offers in their room.”

“When our engineers visited the hospice, clinical staff explained that sometimes, when helping a patient, for example in a bathroom, they couldn’t always see the origin of a second call just raised. We addressed this by incorporating our mobile solution, Pulse Mobile (‘a native smartphone app that lets nurses manage alarms, and remote control the nurse call system, all from their personal smartphone’).”

At the request of the hospice’s staff, the engineers subsequently also configured the connection of bed mats to the nurse call system. 

“Finally, there was a requirement during the pandemic to incorporate a COVID call onto the system in areas where the infection was present. With the system software-based, we were able to programme a new call type to allow for this. All of this clearly highlights the benefits of a modular system to which additional features can be added, as required, over time.”

To donate to Thames Hospice charity, please visit their website

To read more of the March issue of HEJ, click here

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