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Environmental Services rolls out shift-to-shift communication

Toronto, May 1, 2014

By Patricia Favre

EVS employees Gabriella Redi and Joel Corpuz
EVS employees Gabriella Redi and Joel Corpuz participated in the shift-to-shift pilot on 6 Bond. (Photo by Yuri Markarov)

Shift-to-shift communication isn’t just good practice for nurses. Environmental Services, or EVS, is rolling out its own handover method to improve how its employees do their work.

The new communication method ensures that EVS staff working different shifts in patient units share information about their mutual work environment and what was completed during a shift.

“EVS workers have a number of responsibilities on the units, including delivering meal trays and cleaning patient rooms during their stay and after discharge,” said Luis Silva, one of the EVS supervisors leading the project. “This method makes it easier to effectively plan a shift so that we’re providing better customer service, a safer environment and faster patient flow.”

The handover process is guided by a standardized checklist that asks about such things as patient room cleaning, patient dietary restrictions and whether there are enough supplies on the unit for the next shift.

“If a patient is waiting longer than necessary for a bed because a room is waiting to be cleaned, or if a patient received the wrong meal because dietary restrictions weren’t communicated, then that’s only damaging the patient experience,” said Silva. “The checklist ensures that relevant information is shared and that everyone is on the same page about what needs to be done.”

Shift-to-shift communication was recently piloted by EVS staff on 6 Bond, 8 Cardinal Carter and in the Medical Surgical ICU. After the pilot, all the staff involved felt that it helped to improve team work and 90 per cent felt that it should be rolled out as is.

“A shift in a patient unit can be very hectic and no two days are a like,” said Joel Corpuz, one of the EVS employees involved in the pilot on 6 Bond. “By taking a few minutes to talk to teammates after a busy shift we reduce frustrations and work better as a team.”

EVS began rolling out shift-to-shift communications between day and evening staff in patient units in March. The rollout to weekend and night shift employees will take place over the coming months and should be completed by late September.

Did you know? 273 people work in St. Michael’s Environmental Services Department.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.