Dentures, hearing aids and glasses

Author: Lynn HartleyDate: 5 years 2 months Ago

I've been asked to review a patient's property procedure thats quite out of date with bits of it not applied by the staff. The bits of it that aren't applied leave us reimbursing patients for their lost dentures and their lost spectacles. There aren't too many instance of these and the costs arent huge - 33 last year costing just over £4k, but all of it is money that we shouldnt have to spend, so any reduction should be encouraged.

I started by looking through some of the procedures freely accessible via Google, thanks to all who wrote them, and hope you dont mind that i've borrowed them. All of them are much of a muchness, lots of patient property envelopes and signatures. It seemed fine for the more valuable items, but what do we do with the teeth and specs ?

Behind every instance of replaced dentures is a patient who possibly can't eat, risking malnutrition.

Behind every instance of missing hearing aids is a patient who might not have understood what has been explained to them, who just nods to avoid making a fuss.

Behind every instance of replaced glasses is a patient who can't see properly, isn't able to read the menus, is less confident or just left in their own world.

I couldn't find any instances of anyone who has cracked this, although there was a nursing times article that I couldn't access which looked promising.

There were suggestions of lanyards that clip to the patient for hearing aids, suggestions of a Mr Potato Head style picture to remind staff what the patient relied on.

Denture marking kits @ £45 per shot.

Nothing seemed to be really hitting the mark.

So my plea is - has anyone clamped down on the lost bits and pieces and more importantly has anyone actually made a difference in this ?

Can the ingenuity of the FFF community come up with a solution to this - so thinking caps on - the sky is the limit , all suggestions welcome.



Jenny Harcourt's picture
5 years 2 months Ago

Hi Lynn,

This is an ongoing problem for us as well. Last year we spent about £20k on lost items and dentures and glasses were some of the more expensive items.

It was clear that our processes and procedures were not being followed and anyway things such as glasses and hearing aids were not really covered by these procedures.

We have tried a new system called SHADES (Spectacles, Hearing Aids and DEntures). This has involved a matron to drive the changes and lots of Health Care Assistants to follow the process.

The HCAs had responsibility to complete a basic form, which they would fill in as they were settling the patient into the ward, which recorded whether the patient had any glasses, hearing aids or dentures. If the patient was not currently wearing/using the items they were to be stored in a clear plastic bag together with the form.

When the patient was being discharged or transferred the HCA was to refer back to the form and ensure that the patient still had the relevant items. If not this was their chance to search the ward.

If the patient was being transferred the form was to travel with the patient and the HCA on the new ward was to check the form and ensure the patient still had the relevant items. If not this was their chance to contact the old ward and they could do a search.

They also had a strapline of "Shake for SHADES" to remind the HCAs to shake the bed sheets out when stripping the beds as often patients leave dentures wrapped in tissue under their pillows and there is no chance of finding them once the bedding has gone to Laundry!

Obviously this is not foolproof but there is a much better chance of finding items at this point in time than a few weeks later when patients' family contact Finance asking to be reimbursed for lost items!

The Matron asked Finance to run a drop in workshop with her to explain the new procedures to the HCA. She ensured that there was an HCA from each ward to attend. She spent a lot of time in the workshop emphasising the loss of dignity and distress that the loss of these items could cause to the patient and Finance explained the value of the losses over a period of time and how this could be better spent (such as funding a new HCA

The idea was to empower the HCAs to do something about this problem as they often got the job of searching the ward for lost items anyway.

We don't have any results yet from this new process as it has not been in place long but as with all things it will depend on the process becoming embedded. However the fact that this was driven by a Matron and not Finance may help!


Jenny Harcourt