Eco-friendly theatre caps benefit patients and staff

Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LUHFT) is at the forefront of Trusts nationally to introduce eco-friendly theatre caps. A former nurse with a passion for patient safety and the environment has launched the innovative project to improve communication in theatres and minimise waste.

Danielle Checketts has developed reusable, cloth theatre caps embroidered with names and roles to enable better communication in a busy theatre environment, whilst reducing disposable waste. The caps have now been rolled out for many theatre staff at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, with plans to introduce them Trust wide imminently.

Danielle, managing director at Warwick Med, who produce the caps, said: “Having trained and worked at Aintree University Hospital and the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, this Trust and its patients are important to me. I’m a massive advocate for improving patient safety and I wanted to create something that could make a difference. I’ve seen first-hand how access to the right medical advances can change patients’ lives.”

In 2020, Danielle identified that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for healthcare staff to wear increased levels of personal protective equipment (PPE), it wasn’t as easy for them to recognise each other – especially in a complex theatre environment, where colleagues from a range of roles can be dressed similarly.

The caps now make it easier to identify specific individuals, which is beneficial for patients as they can better identify who is caring for them, and also for colleagues in cross-team working and fast-paced emergency scenarios, such as resuscitation.

Dr Mruga Diwan, Consultant Anaesthetist at Liverpool University Hospitals, has been involved in implementing the reusable caps at the Trust. She said: “The use of reusable named theatre caps enables better communication, and since wearing our own personalised caps we have noticed an improvement not only between staff engagement, but also for our patients.

“We can all look very similar in our theatre gowns and personal protective equipment (PPE), so patients now know exactly who they are interacting with, which allays any anxiety and improves their experience. The environmental benefits are also a massive bonus for us all.”

As the caps are reusable, Liverpool University Hospitals is reducing waste. On average, a typical hospital will discard over 100,000 disposable viscose theatre caps per year, so by changing to a more sustainable option, LUHFT is helping to implement positive and impactful environmental change. The swap is expected to save the Trust over 1 tonne of clinical waste each year. 

Danielle said: “It’s great to see the caps having such a positive impact. For me personally, I remember when I had a caesarean section it was quite overwhelming to understand who everyone was around me. By having personalised caps, it enhances the patient experience as they feel more informed and can better understand who is around them in a situation where they can often feel vulnerable.”