Clean and practical screens for patients and nurses

The new fixed Silentia screen is designed for easy combination with folding screens

Screens from Silentia improve the hygiene environment and patient comfort, and are cheaper to use than curtains in hospitals and clinics.

Hygiene requirements in hospitals have stiffened considerably in recent years. In response, Swedish company Silentia AB has ramped up its efforts to develop highly flexible, easy-to-clean and effective solutions based on convenient folding screens that are designed to replace traditional curtain screens. The desire for better hygiene is one of the main reasons for developing products that screen patients and nurses, but the screens also improve the working environment for nurses, since they are easy to clean, easy to handle and very versatile.

One big advantage is that screens allow plenty of light to enter the ward, even if several screens are placed across windows. Screens also allow ceiling hoists to be installed on wards.

In Denmark, the screens are sold through Silentia ApS, founded by CEO Henrik Fribo-Søndergaard on 1 November 2010, when he took over as sole distri­butor of Silentia folding screens in the Danish market.

Hospitals typically begin by installing the first screens in intensive care or emergency wards. These often get the best and most hygienic equipment first, since their patients are more vulnerable and susceptible to bacteria and viruses that can be spread to and from the rest of the hospital. Screens are also typically purchased for new hospital departments, explains Henrik Fribo-Søndergaard.

“Replacing all the curtains in a hospital department with screens is a considerable investment, so it takes longer to introduce screens into departments than in a new hospital build, where the right solution is chosen from the start,” he says.

“There are some hospitals in Sweden that have replaced all their curtains with Silentia screens all at once. This is done to combat the spread of bacteria, and the curtains are replaced as a preventive measure,” says Henrik Fribo-Søndergaard.

“Hygiene is a key reason for hospitals to invest in screens, and it is often the nurses and hygiene specialists who recommend screens and veto the use of curtains. Some hospitals have introduced a policy not to use curtains, while others may not know that screens exist as an alternative,” he says.

The screens are sold to many hospitals in Denmark, and in Norway, Sweden and a long list of countries all around the world. Silentia’s biggest challenge today is to spread information about its products to hospitals, and this is one area that Henrik Fribo-Søndergaard has been focusing on since he began almost six months ago.

Experience has shown that the economic benefits of using folding screens clearly outweigh those of curtains. This is because it is generally necessary to have two sets of curtains that have to be fitted, taken down and washed, then refitted, and so on. This means additional operating costs, while screens can be included in the general cleaning routine and wiped down as requir­ed. The increased cost of buying screens can be recouped, depending on the costing process, within one to one and a half years. From then on the screens are much cheaper to use. The hygienic design and ergonomic advantages of screens contribute to low operating costs.

The design of the screens is modern, practical and timeless. They are available in a wide range of colours, which can be combined with frosted plastic panels to ensure plenty of light gets into the ward. They are supplied in standard heights of 1.45 and 1.85 m, and in lengths up to 3.75 m, so they can extend from the headboard all the way around the bottom of the bed.

The surfaces of screens consist of a hygienic and easy-to-clean, high-pressure laminate in a self-supporting, lightweight sandwich construction. The frame is made of anodised aluminium. The design uses a minimum of components, and careful attention has been given to construction, to avoid crevices.

The screen panels have a light and strong cellular construction. The screens do not rattle when they are folded together, and they are designed to prevent trapping fingers. The wheels have sprung mountings that absorb small irregularities in the floor surface.

Screens are easy to use in a daily clinical environment. They are easy to move around and so easy to operate that it can be done with one hand.

Silentia’s screen system can be fixed straight to the wall, using a wall rail, or mounted on a floor pole, but for maximum flexibility there is also a choice of mobile screens that can be moved around as required. The system can also be expanded as needed, for example with an extended end screen up to two metres wide.

Silentia has not yet encountered any screening requirement that the company has not been able to solve, Henrik Fribo-Søndergaard points out:
“The products have been very well received and hospitals can see the benefits of switching to them, so it is just a matter of time before more screen purchases are included in the budget. When a hospital is considering screens we get lots of questions about detergents, flexibility and installation dimensions. In most cases a height of 1.45 m is sufficient,” he says.

Silentia screens are produced in a very modern, highly automated factory in Falkenberg, Sweden, midway between Helsingborg and Gothenburg. The company has a reputation for checking every detail during the manufacturing process. All components have to be of the highest quality and reliable delivery is a top priority.

In 2007 the company was nominated as a “Gazelle” growth company, and in 2008, 2009 and 2010 received “Super Enterprise” awards for its combination of high growth and profitability. Recent new products from the Swedish factory include the “Daylight” screen, which features transparent panels. This improves light influx into darker parts of a ward. Screens featuring children’s drawings are also available for children’s wards..

» Article from the Danish trade magazine Hospital Drift & Arkitektur No 1 February 2011. By Ib Erik Christensen, Journalist. 

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