The healthcare industry is home to a wide-array of occupations, all serving crucial roles in the health, safety, and well-being of patients. “One important position...that didn’t commonly exist 20 years ago is that of the patient sitter,” notes Becker’s Hospital Review. Patient sitters have recently grown in popularity, and are becoming a fundamental part of the healthcare community by improving patient safety and reducing the workload on the clinical staff.

The scope of responsibilities for a patient sitter depend on the facility, but most often the job functions include watching patients who are at risk of falling, suffering from cognitive or behavioral issues, on hospice care, or those who need some type of supervision. Not only do they monitor the patients and make sure they are safe, but they also help reduce the burden on families and loved ones and keep the clinical staff focused on their core competencies.

Danny Warren, CFO at Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center in Davenport, FL, has contracted out the hospital’s patient sitter program since 2015 to remove unnecessary stress placed on the hospital nursing staff. “The lack of a patient sitter program at our facility was causing major disruptions in our staffing. We were forced to pull our techs, CNAs, and unit coordinators off their normal duties to sit with a patient, which put a strain on our clinical operations and ultimately wreaked havoc on our overall staffing,” shares Warren.

Hospitals often have to utilize their in-house clinical staff or security personnel to provide a watchful eye on patients who are in need of supervision, taking critical time away from the operations on the floor, negatively impacting patient satisfaction, and causing the facility to pay a high premium for these services. Contracting outside vendors to provide and manage patient sitter services reduces the number of tasks that fall on clinical staff and provides an extra set of hands to focus on patient safety and satisfaction; therefore, improving the overall efficiency of the operation.

“The key differentiator with contracted patient sitter programs is the training the team members receive,” says Jonathan Beveridge, HHS Executive Vice President of Operations. “For instance, our team of patient sitters complete comprehensive trainings in de-escalating crisis situations, recognizing the signs of distress, cardiac arrest, and stroke, and they obtain certifications in life-saving techniques such as CPR. Our patient sitters also manage patient observation records, removing additional paperwork from the clinical staffs’ responsibilities, and are cross-trained on the fundamentals of the housekeeping and patient transport positions so that they can help out in those areas as needed.”

The thorough training programs that contract providers enlist ensures that their patient sitters are a knowledgeable and valuable member of the facility staff. The ability to cross-train team members with other departments enables patient sitter staff to support other departments when their services are not required. Assisting the housekeeping team with room turnovers or the patient transport staff with patient moves, empowers patient sitter teams to provide an even higher level of care.

“A big benefit of contracting out our patient sitter program has been that we no longer have to develop additional training for our teams. We know that our contractor [HHS] has provided all the elements needed for our sitters to manage the process for us. It removes the headache, and is one less item our nursing personnel have to worry about,” continues Warren. “It has made life easier for our nurse managers and we see that reflected in the morale of our team.”

The healthcare industry can be very hectic, especially during times of high census where the clinical staff has increased responsibilities to manage. To lessen the stress, the incorporation of a patient sitter program is a worthwhile option for administrative teams to consider, especially as patient sitters are becoming a more integral part of the healthcare industry. Their work and attention to patient safety fills the gaps missing within the operational system and drive the satisfaction levels of patients and staff members alike.

To learn more about HHS’ Patient Sitter program and how you can qualify for a proposal, contact us.