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The Hospital Environment Audit Tool (HEAT) is an online audit tool that encourages health services to consider how the hospital environment affects an older person’s independence and well-being. It provides practical strategies to optimise the environment in order to best meet the needs of older people and increase their participation in their care.

Evidence-based and cost-effective, the HEAT takes a broad view of the environment including policies, procedures and models of care as well as physical surroundings. It also enables health service staff to identify areas for improvement and provides simple tips for optimising the environment without need for major refurbishment.

The HEAT was developed by NARI for the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) with input from clinicians, engineers, architects and peak body representatives.

Using the HEAT

The HEAT does not require any particular training for staff. It consists of 19 brief modules across 5 sections:

  1. Patient bedside orientation
  2. On the ward – limited resources
  3. On the ward
  4. Facility audits
  5. Policy and procedure.

The HEAT is designed to be completed online using a computer or hand-held device however hard-copy versions are also provided. Staff can complete all sections or simply the section (or module) which is most relevant at the time.

Developing an Action Plan

An action plan template can also be printed for completion in documenting the progress of any changes suggested by the audit. Options are provided for where there is a small budget and short timeframe available and, alternatively, for where there is some budget and a longer timeframe available.

Feedback from Health Services

A trial of the HEAT at 8 Victorian Health Services found that it was easy to use and provided a basis for developing and implementing environmental improvements to optimise the care of older people in hospital.

Contact: Amy Parker