Crothall Healthcare Blog

How Patient Sitters Improve Nurse Safety

Patient satisfaction and outcomes are tied to nursing success, engagement, and safety, causing more healthcare organizations to explore ways to support their nurses. Patient sitters are typically known for the security and comfort they bring high-risk patients, but they are also incredibly effective at alleviating nurses' nonclinical burden while enhancing their safety. 

What Are Patient Sitters?

Patient sitters are nonclinical caregivers who stay with a patient during hospitalization. Special training equips hospital sitters to deescalate stressful scenarios while creating engaging patient experiences. These specialists help minimize potential injuries and falls while providing necessary respite for the patient’s loved ones and clinical staff.

What Does a Patient Sitter Do?

Patient sitters are extra eyes, ears, and helping hands for clinical staff and family members or caregivers. The scope of patient sitters’ work varies, but they often observe patients who are:

  • At risk of falling
  • Distressed
  • Terminally ill
  • Combative
  • Confused
  • Homicidal
  • Suicidal
  • In need of supervision in any other way

Patient sitters offer a more humane alternative to punitive measures like restraints while taking the burden off of family members and clinical staff. A patient sitter may perform a range of tasks, including:

  • Assisting with basic comfort activities: Sitters can help patients move in and out of bed, walking, temperature control, television/entertainment assistance.
  • Listening to the patient’s concerns: Patients can express worries or concerns about how they feel, which a sitter can then relay to the appropriate nurse so the clinical team can take needed action.
  • Maintaining the patient’s environment: Sitters provide comfort for their patients by watching out for the patient’s safety and ensuring they are satisfied with the care they receive. Sitters make sure a patient’s room is safe, clean, and in compliance with regulations.
  • Observing the patient and recording data: Sitters maintain constant visual observation of their patient. They also keep accurate records of food and liquid intake, changes in condition, and events such as behavioral changes or violent behavior.

Benefits Patient Sitters Provide to Nurses

While hospital sitters impact patient experience, the benefit of this role to nurses may not be immediately evident. However, patient sitters can significantly improve nurses’ experiences and safety. Benefits that patient sitters provide for nurses include:

  • Alleviating stress: Sitter assignments can be either boring or frightening for nurses, given the unpredictable behavior of at-risk patients. Having trained sitters to take on this task reduces the stress nurses may experience.
  • Creating a safe environment: Patient sitting and observation services ensure someone constantly monitors high-risk patients and their environment. This minimizes potential risks while simultaneously allowing clinical staff to focus on clinical care.
  • Operating at the top of license: Having a patient sitter available maximizes time at the bedside, allowing nurses to perform at the top of their license and enjoy higher job satisfaction.

Trained and specialized patient sitters deescalate difficult situations while freeing nurses to complete clinical tasks. Patient sitters provide additional security for nurses and, by improving their work environment, positively impact patient experience, too: when nurses are more available and engaged, patient satisfaction and outcomes improve.

Patient sitters are trained to deescalate and reduce physical stress and play an integral role in treating at-risk patients. In doing so, hospital sitters foster a safer environment for nurses.

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