Dale Boustead, moving and handling advisor at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, talks about the importance of hydration and the trust's simple and collaborative solution to keeping staff hydrated.
It might seem simple but we all know we need to stay hydrated at work. As NHS professionals, whether we’re nurses, doctors, housekeepers or students, we are constantly reminding our patients to improve their hydration and ensure they drink plenty, but we don’t always have quick access to water at work ourselves. Some wards or departments may have water fountains which makes life a little easier, but others are not so fortunate.
At West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust this issue really mattered to us. We felt that staff shouldn’t be limited from keeping properly hydrated. We looked at a range of options, working closely with our infection prevention and control team, to find a solution so that as many staff as possible could have access to water, 24/7.
Getting this in place posed two questions; what do you drink from and where do you keep it?
We came up with the idea of ‘hydration stations’, which are selected, pre-determined locations in the ward or department. Each station is protected by a closing door, and essentially provides a place to drink in. In every station there’s a box, with water bottles in.
Which brings us to the second question - what to drink from? There are literally thousands of water bottles on the market from big to small with a mind-boggling range of lids and remembering to check they are BPA free and recyclable. After some searching, we found a lid with a flip top and no valves or parts that would harbour bacteria - our infection control team were very happy.
With the support of our fabulous My WiSH hospital charity, we were able to fund the purchase of the bottles and provide every member of staff with their own personal bottle. We hold a stock of bottles and all new starters are issued one during their induction to the trust. Inside the bottles, we pop guidance about where you can drink.
Now, nearly everywhere in the hospital has an area nearby that can be used to drink in, and everyone has something to drink out of.
We've had great feedback so far, and people seem very happy with their new bottles, it’s certainly created plenty of chatter.
We’ve spoken to a number of other trusts about the project, with our close neighbours at Addenbrooke’s Hospital who have recently launched their own bottles.
That leaves me with a third question - could your organisation do more to promote staff hydration?