Patients are first to use ground-breaking drinks reminder

Patients who stay on Musgrove Park Hospital’s wards are drinking almost two thirds more liquid than before.

It’s thanks to the introduction of a ground-breaking drinks reminder system, called Droplet, which helps patients to stay hydrated through friendly messages played from the smart base of a Droplet® mug or tumbler.

Musgrove was the first hospital in the world to trial the system, and it proved so successful on four wards that it will be available to patients across the whole hospital from April.

Droplet® involves a dementia-friendly mug and plastic tumbler that play a series of messages if a patient hasn’t regularly picked up their cup to have a drink. The messages can be set to play after 20, 40 or 60 minutes and can be programmed to include personalised voice messages from the patient’s family or friends.

(left to right): Dawn Paul (healthcare assistant), Kerry Trunks (sister), Ellie van Leeuwen (Droplet® product designer), Marian Van Almelo (junior sister), Moira Conway (sister)

The trial, in December 2017, was a huge success – with patients who used the Droplet® mug and tumbler drinking 63 per cent more liquid than those who did not use them. Musgrove’s League of Friends has generously spent £5,000 to provide Droplet® at the hospital for the first year. And, the mug, tumbler and smart base are now available for patients, relatives and members of the public to buy from the hospital’s League of Friends shop.

Alison Wootton, director of patient care at Musgrove Park Hospital, said she was delighted with the Droplet® system, which she said has already had a positive impact on patients. “Droplet® has proven to be a very useful reminder for our elderly patients in particular,” she said.

“It has meant they have been drinking an extra 500ml a day, which will make such a difference to them. It will help to keep them well hydrated so they are less confused and will get better more quickly. “The mug and tumbler have 100ml and 200ml fill lines on the inside which are helpful to hospital ward staff measure how much patients have had to drink. The mug is also insulated so patients won’t find it too hot.

“We are very proud to be the first hospital in the world to use this ground-breaking system and I look forward to seeing the benefits for our patients in the coming months.”

Droplet® was developed by university student Ellie Van Leeuwen, as part of her product design course at Bournemouth University. She was inspired to create a solution following the care of her grandmother, who became disoriented and confused while in a hospital elsewhere in England. She was diagnosed with dehydration.

Ellie felt there must be a better way for patients to be prompted to keep drinking fluids on the ward. She said: “It has been very exciting to see the work I have done over the past three years bring such fantastic benefits to people in a real life hospital setting. “I have spent lots of time on the wards and it has been great to see patients’ reaction to the Droplet® mug and tumbler and how it’s making a difference to them.”

The idea was taken on by an international product manufacturing company and had input from a wide range of health and social care professionals. The Droplet ® mug has a broad stable base and a chunky open ended handle to allow patients with weak or swollen hands to easily grip the handle or the body of the mug with one or both hands.

The Droplet® mug is also scratch, shatter, odour and stain resistant. The Droplet® tumbler is very similar in the way it works, but it is tinted blue, giving the impression of fresher and colder water, making it look more appealing to drink from. But the star of Droplet® is the smart base which can be attached to the Droplet® mug or Droplet® tumbler.

It does three unique things:

i) Pre-set or personalised messages will play to the patient if the mug or tumbler has not been drunk from for some time.

ii) Warning lights will flash to remind the patient to drink and alert the ward staff if it has not been drunk from.

iii) The Droplet® smart base senses darkness and will glow to help the patient find their cup at night.

Michael Fry, who runs the League of Friends shop at Musgrove Park Hospital, said: “I was delighted to meet Ellie and hear about all how her grandmother’s care inspired her to design this fantastic product. “We are very pleased that the League of Friends is able to support the introduction of the product in Musgrove, especially as it has led to patients becoming over 60 per cent more hydrated. “We are confident that now the mugs and tumblers will be used across the hospital they will benefit an enormous number of patients every day.”

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