DESIGN SCHOOL AND MUNICIPALITY MAKE MEDICINE SAFER FOR THE ELDERLY

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In collaboration with Design School Kolding, Aalborg Municipality carried out a project aimed at reducing the number of patient safety events when handling drugs in municipal nursing homes. The project’s design features have led to a greater sense of security and positively impacted patient safety events.

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In a busy working day, errors occur. The same is true in nursing homes, where incidents involving unintended harm to the residents are called patient safety events. A great many of the patient safety events that occur nationally in municipalities involve handling drugs. Forgetting to administer medication in particular is a major problem that arises for multiple reasons, making it a complex problem to solve.

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The project, Design of Safe Medicine, was established in 2017 to help reduce the number of patient safety events involving forgetting medication in two nursing homes in Aalborg Municipality. Design School Kolding held various workshops for employees at the two homes to give staff insight into design processes and design thinking. Together, they developed five prototypes to test in practice. These included a new type of rubber tray to make overlooking and forgetting medicine harder, new mobile tables to make keeping track of and dosing medicine easier, and colour-coded medicine cabinets with a more systematic layout. The prototypes were tested and positively affected various parameters, including staff security and overview of patient’s medicine. The preliminary data review indicates that the project has also had a positive impact on the occurrence of patient safety events. Thanks to a new reporting system, the reporting of patient safety events has increased by 108% per resident in other nursing homes. However, in the two test homes patient safety events involving forgetting medication have only increased by less than 10% per resident. The prototypes are now being used in the two test nursing homes and will soon be employed by five other homes in the municipality.

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