Impact of Sleep Disturbance on Patient Care in Mental Health


Mental health staff face a quandary: how can they verify that patients who are alone in their own bedrooms are safe and at the same time foster rest and privacy?

The current standard of care is to risk assess patients and check them in person at frequent intervals. In mental health hospitals, these checks are carried out at least every hour. Checks can disturb patients’ sleep and privacy, and negatively impact the therapeutic milieu of the ward whilst taking a great deal of staff time and, unfortunately, not preventing all safety incidents.

The project

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust conducted a service improvement evaluation on Vaughan Thomas ward, a male acute inpatient ward. The evaluation assessed the use of a modified observation protocol, in which staff used Oxevision to monitor patients, improve patient rest and privacy at night without compromising safety.


The modified protocol significantly improved patient and staff experience with no reduction in safety. The key findings were:
  • Staff can confirm patient safety without disturbing or waking resting patients at night.
  • The modified observation protocol is as safe as conventional methods.
  • Patients feel they get better sleep and enjoy more privacy.
  • Staff feel they disturb patients less whilst being confident that they are safe.
  • Staff find the system easy to use and approximately twice as fast as conventional observation methods.
Oxford Health have now implemented the modified observation protocol into routine practice in all patient bedrooms equipped with Oxevision.
“The findings show that introducing the modified protocol essentially removes the need for staff to routinely wake patients to check they are safe. It greatly improves patients’ experience at night.” -Professor John Geddes, Director of Research and Development, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
Professor John Geddes, Director of Research and Development, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
Access the published paper

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