SwedishAmerican Center for Mental Health’s use of soothing rooms gains national recognition

Online Staff Report

The use of restraints is traumatic for psychiatric patients, nurses and staff, and can create risks for physical harm when used improperly. With a goal of calming “escalating” or upset patients while reducing restraint usage and teaching patients how to self-soothe, SwedishAmerican Hospital’s inpatient Center for Mental Health has achieved remarkable progress with the use of soothing rooms.

Based on Watson’s Theory of Caring, soothing rooms provide a safe and calming environment that includes sensory objects that help patients to soothe themselves. The rooms embody a holistic approach characterized by a caring attitude and environment, with a focus on developing a trusting nurse-patient relationship.

Introduced upon admission, soothing rooms are used voluntarily during routine patient interactions, psychological education groups, at the first sign of patient escalation and at all other appropriate opportunities. Hospital staff members follow specific guidelines for their use, monitoring patients a minimum of every 15 minutes and using the rooms for a maximum of 30 minutes.

Since the inception of the soothing rooms, SwedishAmerican has reduced restraint usage 35 percent, with the most remarkable results seen among adult patients. SwedishAmerican Director of Psychiatric Services Amy Kirsch, MSN, BSW, RN, recently gave a presentation titled “Soothing Rooms: Reducing Restraint Trauma in Patients and Nurses” at the 2014 American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) Conference. Kirsch works for Rosecrance Health Network, which manages psychiatric services at SwedishAmerican.

Following her presentation, the APNA determined that Kirsch’s presentation was likely to have an important impact on the practice of clinical nursing. Subsequently, an independent medical advisory board selected the presentation for inclusion in APNA’s peer-reviewed report, “Conference Express.”

SwedishAmerican’s use of soothing rooms has important future implications, including the prospect of additional research at the national level, as well as the development of a new standard of inpatient care as the concept is adopted industry-wide.

Posted Nov. 19, 2014

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