Creative ideas flowing for hospital challenge as team designs better water jugs

Nursing staff have teamed up with designers to tackle a problem posed on hospital wards throughout the country – poorly designed water jugs.

The plastic water containers are a common site on most wards but despite their unassuming nature can prove a real headache as they are hard for patients to use and easily knocked over. They also make it harder to make sure patients are staying hydrated.

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Karen Draper, a Patient Support Worker at Queen’s Medical Centre, was approached by Nottingham Trent University design student Tom Lewis who was keen to help solve a problem in the hospital as part of his degree course.

The pair have worked together on a prototype new jug that could help address those issues.

Karen said: “There are a number of problems with the current jug one in particular is that the sterilising process makes the material scratch so they don’t look very clean.

“The handles aren’t easy to grip because they are very smooth so patients have a hard time gripping them, the lids don’ fit very well so patients have to tilt the lid upwards before they poor the water – if they don’t do that the water tends to go everywhere. Also the markings aren’t very clear so we can’t accurately see how much water the patients have drunk.

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“It’s a real problem if patients can’t drink. It makes them more unwell, their recovery is slower if they are dehydrated so we really need a jug they can use easily.”

Tom set to work and has developed a new look jug which is easier to lift, has a better fitting lid and addresses a number of the current problems.

He said: “The material means it will last a lot longer and not scratch and need replacing as often. On the handle there’s a bumped texture making it easier for patients, especially those with arthritis, to grip it. There’s also a base unit in the bottom that prevents it being knocked over but it can still be lifted up easily.”

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The new prototype has been well received on the ward. Karen said: “The new jug is amazing. All the features are on it that we need, it’s easy to grip so patients can hold them, the lid operates by itself too. I like the base unit which makes it really difficult to tip over.

“All the feedback from the people that have seen the new jug has been really positive, everyone is really excited about it.”

Tom has already shared his creation at a number of design events across the county and is hopeful of working with a manufacturer to improve the design and get it made.

He said: “It has been great to work with Karen and to do something practical to help the team. My family work in the NHS so coming up with something small but could have a big impact has been really important.”

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Paula Ward, Interim Programme Director for Better for You, the NUH improvement programme, said: “Karen and Tom have thought innovatively in response to a problem that exists in our hospitals that affects our patients, family members, carers and staff.

“Good hydration is important for the safety and wellbeing of hospital patients.  By improving the design of water jugs I can see there is real benefit to our patients in minimising the risk and potential harm that poor hydration can cause as this creative solution seeks to improve the provision of water to our patients.

“We are very fortunate at NUH to have front line staff that truly demonstrate a real dedication and determination to continuously improve care, services and the experience for our patients.”

 

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