The correct personal protective equipment (PPE) has been crucial for trusts to be able to safely deploy staff to tackle COVID-19 on the frontline. Nationally, we know there have been issues with PPE, from changing guidance, to supply and distribution. Ensuring that trusts have access to the right PPE at the right place at the right time has been vital to fight coronavirus. Trusts have created their own innovative ways to safely and effectively be able to do their work while donning PPE, which can drastically change how they approach their roles.


Disco balls and bags of rice: innovation to decontaminate PPE

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust’s (SASH’s) quality improvement methodology, led by the SASH+ (the trust’s own quality improvement methodology) team, paved the way to a range of innovative solutions to tricky challenges. The SASH+ methodology came into its own during COVID-19 to drive real improvements at pace.

For example, to efficiently decontaminate all surfaces of protective hoods, which consists of a helmet, face shield and neck cape, leaders framed the problem, but it was small teams who experimented to find solutions. They followed a process called Plan, do, study, act, an innovation and improvement method they had used in the past, that involves devising a solution, trying it, observing results, redesigning the solution, then repeating the steps.

Using this process, the teams developed a final decontamination process that includes:

  • exposing hoods to UV light by hanging them on chains from the ceiling, so the hood is exposed inside and out
  • suspending the chains from motorised bases designed for disco balls, so the hood rotates in air and is exposed equally on all sides
  • hanging a 1kg bag of rice from the hood, so it tilts at the best angle to the UV source.

The culture of SASH+ is to empower staff at all levels to look at issues an inch wide and a mile deep and come up with innovative solutions. This approach was seen in several other examples at SASH, such as the simple visual cue that helped improve communication with relatives and carers while visiting restrictions were in place. The team came up with a simple chart which made it easy to see which member of the MDT had called the family that day, meaning loved-ones were more regularly updated. The visual cue has since been adopted by dozens of other organisations and been shortlisted for a Nursing Times award.