Team communication at its best
Wireless headsets help frontline staff stay connected
27 January 2021
For NHS staff treating seriously ill Covid-19 patients, wearing layers of protective equipment is vital to keep them safe.
However, at a critical time for our hospitals, masks, visors, and respirators can make it difficult for frontline staff to speak to each other. That’s why we’ve helped fund wireless headsets so that staff at St Mary’s Hospital can communicate while staying as safe as possible.
The lightweight, easily-cleaned devices have been deployed across three of the wards on the frontline of the pandemic, and they’ve already had a big impact.
Nic Alexander, Consultant Paediatric Surgeon at the hospital, said: “Being able to communicate effectively is not only vital to a smooth-running operation but critical in terms of patient safety. Now staff are able to talk with each other and can request help if a patient’s condition worsens, without even leaving the bedside.”
The headsets are comfortable, hygienic, and last 16 hours on a single charge, making them ideal for those spending most of their shift wearing protective equipment.
"The headsets have made work on our ward throughout Covid so much easier, helping us to communicate with each other when we were unable to leave the cubicles."
Hannah Deller, Matron for children’s services
When the first wave hit last year, staff were quickly alerted to the unexpected challenges created by making sure those working with patients were safe.
Nic added: “Masks and visors together muffled sound and all of our non-verbal communication cues were suppressed. Issues with communicating emerged as a constant theme from every area in the Trust.”
Staff launched a trial in the hospital’s operating theatres to see whether the headsets could help. Nic said: “The surgical scrub team were able to communicate easily and safely throughout operations, and even speak to the team member outside of theatre whose role was to bring equipment when needed”.
The wireless headsets were funded by a £10,000 grant from Imperial Health Charity plus additional funding from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. The devices are currently being used by staff on the Grand Union Ward, children's intensive care and maternity services.