Campaign against ‘PJ paralysis’ helps halve stays for elderly patients at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King’s Lynn
- Credit: Ian Burt
A campaign to encourage elderly patients to be more independent has helped to halve the time they spend in hospital.
Ward staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn encourage them to get dressed, get out of bed and get moving during the day to speed up recovery.
Since they launched a new campaign three months ago, the average stay in hospital form frail elderly patients has reduced from 10 to just under five days.
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Dr Ali Alsawaf, one of the QEH's consultants in elderly medicine, said: 'If you keep people in their pyjamas during the day, they're more likely to need help with stuff but if you dress people they tend to be more independent.'
Known as pyjama paralysis or deconditioning syndrome, remaining in bed, dressed in night clothes can delay recovery.
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Worse still, expert say 10 days' inactivity can cause the equivalent of 10 years' aging on the muscles of an 80-year-old.
Staff on the hospital's 33-bed Windsor Ward also encourage patients to think positively, via an NHS initiative called Operation Red to Green. They are encouraged to ask questions about their treatment and focus on when they will be able to go home.
Fellow consultant Dr James Casson said: 'The data we've got for Windsor Ward is really encouraging. Over the last three months we've seen the average length of stay fall dramatically. It was 10 days, it's now around 4.9.'
Shorter stays don't just mean patients get to go home sooner, freeing up beds.
Dr Alsawaf said beforehand, elderly patients would undergo on average three ward moves before being transferred to Windsor.
Now the average is one, meaning they arrive at the specialist ward far sooner, speeding up assessment.
Patient Daisy Love Tomkins was up and about after being encouraged to get dressed by nurses. The 100-year-old, from Cambridgeshire, said of her care: 'It's wonderful, it couldn't be better - but I'd still like to go home.'
Increasing numbers of patients now enter and leave care at the QEH with so-called red bags, which are packed by care homes in case of a hospital stay. They contain information about medical conditions, medication and personal belongings so doctors can make quick clinical decisions when people arrive at hospital.