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Staff nurse wins award for promoting sleep after her own experience as a patient

High-dependency unit nurse introduced practical ways to create a restful ward environment

High-dependency unit nurse introduced practical ways to create a restful environment


Shone McKie’s innovation won her an NHS Scotland award. 

A nurse's own experience as a patient inspired her award-winning initiative to improve the quality of patients' sleep.

Glasgow Royal Infirmary surgical high-dependency unit staff nurse, Shona McKie, won NHS Scotland’s quality care award last month for her Sleep Well, Feel Well, Get Well initiative.

Ms McKie made changes on her unit after spending time experiencing what it was like to be an inpatient following a sudden illness.

The harm caused by sleep deprivation

As a patient, Ms McKie found sleep deprivation hampered her recovery and so she set out to improve the unit's sleep-friendliness.

‘After my experience, I had a bee in my bonnet about making simple changes,' she said.

‘The physiological and psychological consequences of lack of sleep are significant and can result in the patient being agitated, their reaction time slower and their tolerance to pain lower.’

‘Making these small changes has meant a lot of adjustments to the way the staff work, but my colleagues have embraced them and the difference to the patients is really positive’

The nurse collected patient data on factors that disturbed sleep. She found nurse or doctor interventions contributed to 20% of disturbance, pain and discomfort 14%, and alarms and machines 11%.

Care improvement driven by the evidence

Using this data and information from nursing staff, Ms McKie created knew she wanted to make changes to help patients sleep.

These included:

  • Providing ear plugs, eye masks and duvets.
  • Adjusting the volume on alarms and equipment.
  • Opening intravenous fluid bags away from patients.
  • Individual rest times for people in single or two-bed rooms, when room lights are dimmed and blinds closed.
  • Entering rooms kept to an ‘absolute minimum’.

Ms McKie said feedback from staff and patients had been positive.

‘Making these small changes has meant a lot of adjustments to the way the staff work, but my colleagues, both nursing and medical, have embraced them and the difference to the patients is really positive,’ she said.

Staff from other high-dependency units in Scotland have now approached Ms McKie about implementing the initiative in their areas.


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