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Nurse call button

  • davew
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Hospital patients with limited mobility and/or dexterity can find operating the standard “nurse call” button difficult. We were asked to look at the possibility of creating something to make it simpler to operate the button. The request coming from a specialist stroke ward.

There are three different styles of handset in use in the ward we visited and the style and design of the most common units means that creating a holder to fit them would not be straight forward.

The solution had to meet the concerns of infection control, being able to withstand the cleaning chemicals in use and, a later addition to the requirement, must be a single component so no parts could be lost in bedding, potentially causing pressure sores. The solution should also be easy to clean so no difficult corners/crevices.

The solution had to be none damaging to the handsets in use, no modification to the handsets would be possible and replacing the handsets was also not an option.

The three handset types are not electronically compatible, having different plug types and, presumably, different protocols so a solution would need to be designed for each handset

The solution

We were supplied with a none working handset that we could borrow to use as a basis for the first design. It was apparent that creating a holder for the handset that could hold it securely and allow a large contact area for the button would be challenging due to the ergonomic shape of the handset, curving in all directions and asymmetrical. A bespoke designed holder suitable for 3D printing was the obvious solution providing that a suitable CAD model could be created.

Securing the handset into the holder would also present a challenge but it could be seen that if the handset could be hooked into the holder and then the bottom of the unit held in position this would hold it securely and allow for ease of removal for cleaning.

A somewhat simplified model of the handset was created in the CAD package first and this was then used to model and design the holder around it. Other than the initial model, the method of clamping the unit into the holder posed some real difficulties and, in the end, the client was supplied with two versions – a removable plastic clamp that clicked into place or a velcro strap.

The velcro strap was discounted due to infection control concerns. The removable plastic clip worked well but concerns were raised about it getting lost in bedding with a potential to then cause pressure sores should it not be discovered. As a result of this a second prototype was produced that used a hinged clamp to hold the handset in place which meant that the clip could not be lost, being attached to the holder.

The colour of the flap that operates the button and the material used also had a bearing on the design and print of that. Using translucent orange PETG was as close as we could get to the amber colour of the button with the translucent nature of the material partially taking the lighting from around the button making it easier to find at night.

Two of the “version 2” prototype units were supplied and feedback has been very promising so far on the holders for the larger of the two ergonomic handsets.

The design of a holder for the second, smaller, ergonomic unit is now complete using a similar design strategy. A 3D laser scanner was used to provide the initial model though which meant that the final CAD model was more accurate although is still somewhat simplified. It is anticipated that two holders for the small handset will be delivered to the client in the next week or so and we will hopefully collect a sample of the third handset type to begin design of a suitable holder for that.

The benefit

The first prototypes have been well received and are now in use on the ward for suitable patients. We are still evaluating the design and as it is used we can look at ways it can be improved and if any strengthening is required of any parts to make it more robust.

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