Jacqui Close is a consultant in Orthogeriatrics at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, Director of the Falls and Injury Prevention Group at Neuroscience Research Australia and President of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Geriatric Medicine. Her research interests range from injury epidemiology, to intervention studies and implementation research.
The days of the Nightingale ward are thankfully gone. No longer do we see two long neat rows of beds with starched sheets. Whilst the occupants of the bed were rarely encouraged to roam freely, the close proximity of the beds allowed for easy spread of highly mobile viruses and bacteria. Even in the absence of an understanding of infection risk, many complained about the lack of dignity and privacy resulting from this ward design.
Time has moved on and there is recognition of the multiple benefits of single rooms for all patients including older people. Single rooms allow for the delivery of health care which minimizes infection risk, respects privacy, promotes dignity and on the whole reflects with wishes of those people unfortunate enough to require a period in hospital. But is a single room right for everyone and can we be flexible in the way we deliver care?