Hassle-free screens boost infection prevention and control and patient dignity


Silentia screens pay dividends at Golden Jubilee National Hospital, Scotland

Why install screens at a largely single-bedded room hospital?

At Scotland’s impressive Golden Jubilee National Hospital, managed by the National Waiting Times Centre Board, large doors of the single patient rooms are invariably left open to allow nursing staff to easily check on the occupants.

Pull-around curtains were previously used to screen off the door for privacy while doctors or nursing staff were in attendance or visitors were present. Yet the curtains presented their own problems, as senior manager for infection prevention and control, Robert Gray, explains.

We were looking for an alternative to curtains, something easy to clean and that would reduce laundry costs

“We were looking for an alternative to curtains, something easy to clean and that would reduce laundry costs.

“With curtains you’ve got the hassle of removing them and the cost of cleaning. Before, we had three different sizes of curtains per ward and spares.”

Enter Silentia screens - a highly-flexible alternative which gives privacy and dignity, with an easy-to-clean and highly-manoeuvrable solution. They are ideal for quickly creating a separate room within a room.

However, with curtains being shown to harbour infection and needing to be regularly laundered or replaced, if disposable the particular benefits recognised by the Golden Jubilee are that the Silentia screens have a hard, cleanable surface that is easily wiped down - just like any other item of furniture. A boon to improving increased patient privacy and dignity, the screens also reduce sound travel by around 20%.

In hospitals with multi-bed wards this allows private conversations to be held a few feet away from the neighbouring bed.

“We arranged a presentation by Silentia, who brought some sample screens in,” said Gray.

“They did a presentation to nursing staff, infection prevention and control estates and housekeeping.”

The 157 Silentia screens chosen by the Golden Jubilee are either seven or nine panels wide.

Gray explained: “The screens were supplied eight or nine months ago and are gradually being phased in across the hospital as rooms become available. We chose white-coloured screens as they are neutral and you can easily see if there is any staining. They’re robust, fold up easily, and can be cleaned in situ.

“We got the whole of the supply towards the end of the last financial year. Fixing was done by estates using a template, so it was straightforward. They’re fixed to the wall and secure. They pull out to form a wall so it feels more private for the patient. The screens can run at an angle if required.”

Nearly all the rooms at the hospital are single patient rooms. In some rooms there are day patients, with two patients per room with a screen between them. The screens are compatible with all major cleaning solutions used on the ward, while the patented hinges are designed not to trap dirt and be easy to clean. The castors are removable, enabling them to be washed separately.

“If the screens are stained in any way - with blood or body fluids - they are cleaned by the nursing staff,” said Gray.

“Housekeeping staff clean the screens as part of their daily routine cleaning as part of the fixtures and fittings. There is a high level of cleaning of these screens. You wouldn’t be able to do this with curtains.

Patients are amazed at the level of cleanliness. We’re almost spoilt to be working here

On the hospital’s Ward 2 East orthopaedics staff nurse, Anne McKinley, said: “The screens are great for patient privacy. The doors are very wide and it’s easy for passers-by to see into the room. With the screens you can easily wipe them down. If there’s been an infection we use a chlorine-based detergent disinfectant.

“Patients are amazed at the level of cleanliness. We’re almost spoilt to be working here.”

Housekeeper Mary Filshie, added: “I’ve been at the hospital for 10 years and only work on this ward. If the curtains were dirty or had stains we had to get a porter to take them down, replace them with another curtain, and take the soiled one to the laundry for cleaning. So it could delay the use of the room and take the porter away from their duties. Now we have the screens we don’t have to get in touch with the porters.

“We clean each patient room once a day and also give them a check clean. The screens are cleaned with a damp cloth – a single cloth for each screen - with detergent or disinfectant when necessary. The screens are easy to handle. You just take the brake off; pull the screen right out, and clean from top to bottom of each panel.”

The hospital, situated to the west of Glasgow in Clydebank, Dunbartonshire, is a national resource for Scotland. Flora Robertson, a patient from Castle Douglas, said: “I have been in hospitals before where there are just curtains. In a room like this the screens immediately give you privacy, without you being shut in. It seems very easy to use.”

Tim Clarke, director of Silentia UK, added: “We introduced the screens three years ago at the annual conferences of both IPS, the Infection Prevention Society, and AHCP, the Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals, and at subsequent regional branch meetings and study days. These led to individual enquiries from healthcare professionals who recognised the need for environmental and infection control-friendly screens, with the added benefit of increasing patient privacy and dignity.

“Infection prevention and control leads appreciate the benefits of hard surface screens which are compatible with recommended detergents and disinfectants and can be cleaned on site or in the ward, as opposed to curtains which, in a time-consuming process, have to be removed and replaced to achieve the same level of cleanliness.”

I have been in hospitals before where there are just curtains. In a room like this the screens immediately give you privacy, without you being shut in

From a patient’s perspective Silentia screens provide a level of privacy which includes the reduction of sound travel between patients and their visitors, staff and ambient noise - for example the patient and doctor can discuss their condition discreetly.”

Clarke said: “For the facilities and housekeeping teams, Silentia screens remove the hassle of hanging curtains, removal of curtains, laundry of curtains and the loss of curtains, and of course the cost of laundering. Being constantly available and quick to clean, the screens have also helped to reduce bed blocking. Any issues of infection prevention and control can be dealt with in situ, in the ward or indeed in the single patient room without any concerns over replacement.”

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Silentia screens are available in a range of heights, lengths and colours, including wall fixing and mobile versions. There is some suspension movement in the wheel to allow for areas with uneven floors.