PICU sleep initiative looks to boost patient healing

picu_sleepEveryone benefits from a good night’s rest, but sleep is especially important in healing and strengthening children in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. Unfortunately, catching some Z’s at a hospital that operates 24/7 isn’t always easy.

“We knew from talking to parents that their children’s slumber here wasn’t restful,” says Myke Federman, MD, medical director of the cardiothoracic PICU. “It seemed counterproductive that we were providing a high level of medical care to these children, yet we weren’t addressing something as fundamentally important as sleep. We wanted to see what we could do to improve the patient and family experience by providing a more comforting and quiet place to rest.”

Thanks to a patient-experience award from the UCLA Institute for Innovation in Health, Dr. Federman, along with PICU physician Yonca Bulut, MD, and PICU clinical nurse specialist Theresa Kirkpatrick, CCRN, launched a sleep-hygiene initiative in March 2015 called Supporting Sleep for Health and Healing (SSHH).

“We began by surveying nurses and parents to pinpoint the biggest sleep stealers in the unit and worked with day- and night-time staff to make certain improvements,” says Dr. Bulut. “We had to educate the staff about the unique sleep needs of infants, children and teens because a teen’s sleep needs and patterns are going to be different than a toddler’s, so it’s important to take these into account.”

Since these sleep hygiene steps were imple-mented, PICU patients and their parents are resting easier. “Before this initiative, parents reported that their kids were averaging about six hours of nightly sleep in the hospital,” says Dr. Federman. “Our PICU kids today get an average of 7.5 hours of sleep every night. We hope that the extra rest will translate into better health outcomes for them.”

Thanks to another award from the UCLA Institute for Innovation in Health, the team is expanding the SSHH initiative to all of Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, as well as the pediatrics unit at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica. “We believe adult patients could benefit from this program as well,” says Dr. Bulut. “One day we hope to see SSHH in place throughout UCLA Health. After all, everyone feels better after a good night’s rest.”

Improvements for a Good Night’s Rest:

  • Creating and displaying signage that designates the unit as a sleep-friendly zone.
  • Implementing a 10 pm lights-out policy.
  • Lubing squeaky wheels on medical carts.
  • Placing silencers on the doors to the PICU so they don’t bang shut.
  • Equipping each patient room with a white-noise machine.
  • Supplying foam earplugs and eye masks to patients and their families.
  • Installing a noise detector that flashes yellow or red when sound levels in the unit exceed set noise limits.
  • Creating signs for parents to hang on their children’s doors that let staff know to come back later because a child is resting, or to enter because a child is awake.
  • Combining nighttime medical procedures when possible.
  • Silencing the ice makers that nurses use to store bloodwork.

What works for you? Share your tips on a good night’s rest!

For more information about the Institute for Innovation in Health, visit uclainnovates.org.

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