November 23, 2020

New SPECTRE project for individualised, safer care

A new collaborative project in the Short Stay Unit (SSU) is improving the pathway for patients to get the right care, at the right time.

The Toxicology HDU (High Dependency Unit)/SPECTRE Cubicle Project is aimed at reducing the length of time in the main Emergency Departments for patients presenting with sedation, whether it be from an overdose or recreational substance use, whilst ensuring safer care.

This project has been developed in conjunction with the SPECTRE Unit. SPECTRE is Northern Health’s new specialty unit that focuses on the care of patients with a problem pertaining to one or more of the following: Substance Dependence, Psychiatry/Mental Health, Envenomation, Clinical Toxicology, Recreational Substances.

The Cubicle Project commenced on 10 November and is based within the Clinical Decisions Unit (CDU) in SSU – with two fully monitored beds dedicated to caring for this cohort of patients, with a goal to elevate patient experience and contribute to better health outcomes.

Dr Joe Rotella, Northern Health’s first clinical toxicologist, explains the new service will help to provide more individualised, safer patient care. Joe is an emergency physician and one of only 10 toxicologists in Victoria.

“At Northern Health, we see a large proportion of patients for whom drugs, alcohol and mental health are the reason for their presentation. We’ve had a multidisciplinary Toxicology Special Interest Group for over a year now, and the evolution of that has been to create a formal unit called SPECTRE,” Joe said.

Previously, if patients were to present to the Emergency Department (ED) intoxicated or having overdosed, they were required to stay in ED before they could go anywhere else – whether that be home, onto a ward or to ICU.

That’s where Nicole Higginson, Clinical Nurse Specialist, stepped in with the Toxicology HDU/SPECTRE Cubicle Project.

“The Toxicology High Dependency Cubicles created within CDU is a unique project allowing for a safe and suitable environment for this cohort of patients. They will assist the flow from the Emergency Department whilst also decreasing the pressure on ward beds, as these patients no longer have to wait in ED for a bed,” Nicole said.

This is the first project of its kind in any Australian hospital and the team are excited for the new education opportunities and increase of skills, to ensure the best care for these patients.

Patients will benefit from quicker access to services such as social work, mental health and alcohol and other drugs (AOD) services, which will present opportunities to reduce length of stay. Patients will also have access to one to one nursing, rather than two to one in the ED.

“Being in hospital can be an anxiety-provoking experience for patients, so we have an opportunity to reduce the time they actually have to be in hospital, and also an opportunity to link them in with the right services they need,” Joe said.

Luma Gashi, Nurse Unit Manager for SSU/CDU, said, “This project has created a change to our nursing care, as our nurses have been specially trained to care for this cohort of patients. From education and support from Nicole, Joe and the education team, we are now able to take better care of these patients.”

“Our nurses have learnt new skills and have more experience, so I’m excited about the project as it will be an overall better experience for patients.”

The project is already growing as the team have recently received confirmation for funding of a new registrar to come on board next year. They will add to the utility of these cubicles by providing direct care alongside the SSU team to any patient who presents in need of care.

Featured Image: Nicole Higginson and Dr Joe Rotella