Royal Columbian Hospital’s Sling Management Shared Work Team redefined the ways in which slings are managed to better support patient care and site sustainability.

As one of Fraser Health’s major regional critical care sites, Royal Columbian Hospital point-of-care teams require timely access to a wide range of equipment, including, walkers, wheelchairs, IV poles and slings – to support safe and efficient care.

“When a request for supplies comes in, it can often times be easier to find a just-in-time solution, rather than focus on sustainability in the longer term,” says Irene Cheung, manager, Clinical Operations, Royal Columbian Hospital.

To address this issue, a multidisciplinary sling management team was established in January 2021. This shared work team was co-led by Irene and Reema Prihar, site operations manager, and included representatives from allied health, ergonomics and support services, including staff from the linen department.

“Our first step was to use a quality improvement approach to analyze our sling management process,” says Irene. “From there, we looked at what changes needed to be made, and what evaluation framework we would need to track the success of those changes.”

Changes the team implemented include: the designation of new ‘pink bags’ to ensure the timely turnover and laundering of sling material; the purchase and labeling of additional slings; the establishment of a designated equipment coordinator to oversee this work; the creation of a site-based equipment committee; the implementation of a new sling utilization guideline; and the establishment of new sling management evaluation processes.

“Within a year we had seen substantial positive changes,” says Irene. “There was a significant increase in staff who reported timely access to laundered slings to use at point of care.”

Staff also appreciated the chance to take part in and give feedback on the team’s quality improvement work.

“We all understand how easy it is to find quick solutions to problems,” says Irene. “We work in an incredibly fast-paced environment and this urgency was often exacerbated by the pandemic. We know that this team has set up a good example for other teams at Royal Columbian Hospital – and throughout the Fraser Health region – about the importance of taking a pause and looking at the issue differently and then finding solutions together.”

For Cecilia Li, director, Clinical Operations, the impact of the team’s work is far reaching.

“The outcomes of this work not only allow us to better track sling inventory – which supports patient safety and reduces staff injuries – but it is now also a component of the Royal Columbian Phase 2 Redevelopment Project, where we will be using the equipment committee’s methodology to track site-wide patient clinical equipment processes,” she says.

Having such a wide array of committee members from various backgrounds continues to be a driver of the team’s innovative work.

“This work is a great example of an interdisciplinary team collaborating to find new ways to fulfil our objective to care,” says Jackie Ellis, leader, Prevention – Specialized Services. “Having the right equipment, at the right place, at the right time, allows our staff to safely care for patients. Their work exemplifies the positive changes that can happen when we involve each other in meaningful ways.”

Congratulations to the Royal Columbian Hospital Sling Management Shared Work Team – recipients of a Best Collaboration Above and Beyond Award.

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