New safety system keeping staff and patients safe at Cumberland Hospital with state-of-the-art duress tags introduced

Cumberland Hospital

As part of continuing efforts to ensure world-class protection and care for staff and patients, state-of-the-art duress tags have been implemented at Cumberland Hospital in Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD).

The wearable tags are a small square panel which can be pressed or pulled to alert other staff to assist where needed.

“People need to have this reassurance that there’s help available and the duress tags offer additional confidence,” WSLHD Director of Mental Health, Vlasios Brakoulias said

“You can press a button and alert people to tell them you need help and that offers greater connection with other people as well knowing you’re part of a team.”

“The button is discreet so as not to alarm anyone and the system is responsive and can signal across the whole campus if needed.  It can even tell you in a one to two metre radius where the person signalling is located.”

All staff including nursing, allied health and medical at Cumberland Hospital are now required to wear duress tags whilst on duty.

WSLHD Clinical Nurse Manager, Recovery & Rehabilitation Services, Janine van Bruinessen, said the environment has changed for the better for staff at Cumberland Hospital since the new duress tags were recently brought in.

“This has increased the safety for all staff within the units. There is an expectation that all staff will provide assistance to their colleagues when a duress tag is activated,” she said.

Safety duress tag

The duress tag system operates over Wi-Fi and offers multiple benefits to staff including ‘person down’ and ‘duress activation’ functions.

Janine said staff feedback on the duress tags has been positive.

“We have had good feedback on the new duress tag system compared to the older duress system – it is easier to wear and easier to activate if needed. All staff are required to wear a duress tag whilst in the units which increases the number of staff alerted to an incident who can then respond to provide assistance,” she said.

The new system is also beneficial for patients.

Having a system which is reliable and easier to activate means staff can confidently activate the duress and have a quicker response from all staff in that location and this therefore reduces the exposure of potentially distressing events to others within the unit.”

Janine Van Bruinessen

The tags are also effective in that two staff can be working to engage a consumer to de-escalate a situation and while that’s occurring one of the staff members can activate the duress tag, in turn, the situation can then be managed with a positive outcome which includes the treating team acknowledging the concerns of the consumer and revisiting the current treatment plan.

Part of the hospital’s new safety system also includes improved escalation pathways for alerting staff who work outside the clinical unit, via mobile phone duress tag alerts, which are sent to security staff, Nursing Unit Managers and Nursing Managers.