4 West is a Well Organised Ward

The Productive Ward program, currently in action in 24 inpatient areas of St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, provides ward staff with practical tools to strategically improve the processes and aspects of the work environment that matter to them most.

One of the most popular parts of the program is the Well Organised Ward (or WOW) module.  The aim is to ensure that all equipment and supplies are located in the most efficient place on the ward and that all resources are perpetually in-stock, charged and ready to be used at a moment’s notice.

St Vincent’s staff members are taught to use 5S principles – a sustainable workplace organisation method with origins in the manufacturing industry, which maximises efficiency and effectiveness.  The 5 steps in the 5S process are to sort all items and remove what is unnecessary, set items in a logical order or location, shine the area so that it is neat and tidy, standardise locations through colour-coding and labelling and sustain the changes via checklists and regular audits.

4 West has recently embarked upon their WOW journey.  They have collected data which tells them that nursing staff spend a lot of time in “motion” – that is, walking, searching for and returning items, information and equipment.  They have completed inventory audits and found that at times, they have too much stock on hand, which can lead to disorganised storage areas.

The staff on 4 West are systematically using the steps of 5S in each of their ward area – from the medication room to the nurses’ stations, from the patient rooms to the utility rooms.

This is a photo of Tayla, a nurse on 4 West, snapped on her way past the clean room.  Hours of work have been put into maintaining the right stock levels and proactively communicating with suppliers (see the red X on some barcodes), colour-coding and labelling products so that they can be found “at a glance.”  The use of this high-traffic and vital space has been thoroughly analysed and placement of items has been designed by the whole team to ensure that high-use stock is grouped logically and is easily accessible.

Once this 5S and WOW process is complete throughout 4 West, the staff will re-measure the amount of time spent at the bedside.  They expect that with better layout and processes and less time spent in motion, they will be able to spend even more time with their patients.

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