Same sex accommodation

Same Sex Accommodation

Our promise on same sex accommodation

Torbay Hospital is committed to providing same sex accommodation for its patients. To reflect this, mixed sex areas have been eliminated in the hospital.

A definition of same sex accommodation is:

  • Your bed is in a room or bay occupied only by patients of the same sex;
  • Your toilet and bathroom will be for the sole use by patients of the same sex and will be nearby.

A definition of mixed sex accommodation is:

Mixed sex accommodation is when patients are sleeping next to someone of the opposite sex or both sexes use the same bathroom facilities.

Our work to provide same sex accommodation – Declaration 2014/15

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust is able to confirm that we are compliant with the Government’s requirements to eliminate mixed sex accommodation (except when it is in the patients overall best interests).

In all our inpatient wards and day care areas we have the necessary facilities, resources and culture to ensure that patients who are admitted to our hospital will only share the room where they sleep with members of the same sex and same sex toilets and bathrooms will be close to their bed area.

If our care should fall short of the required standard we will report it. We will also set up an audit mechanism to make sure that we do not misclassify any of our reports. Regular reporting to the Trust Board will give assurance of our performance in this important area.

What does this mean for patients?

Other than in exceptional circumstances and in the interests of the best clinical provision, patients admitted to Torbay Hospital can expect to be cared for in same sex accommodation. In the hospital, most wards and specialist units, such as the Emergency Assessment Units, have separate bays, toilets and washing facilities for men and women.

In some areas of the hospital, men and women patients are treated in the same ward but do not share the same sleeping area. Their bathroom might be across a ward corridor but not accessed through areas occupied by the opposite sex.

If you need help to use the toilet or take a bath (e.g. you need a hoist or special bath) then you may be taken to a bathroom used by both men and women. Where you need help, to assist you and safeguard your privacy, a member of staff will be with you and other patients will not be allowed to use the bathroom at the same time.

While every effort will be made to provide same sex accommodation, it is impossible within the hospital to separate the sexes totally. Some communal spaces, such as day rooms or dining rooms, are shared by both sexes and, as you move around the hospital (for example, on your way to X-ray or the operating theatre), it is very likely that you will see both men and women patients. Equally, there will be men and women visiting the ward; these include doctors, nurses and staff and patients calling on each other. On these occasions, steps will be taken to respect your privacy.

Offering treatment to a patient is a key priority of the National Health Service.

Torbay Hospital will not turn patients away just because a “right-sex” bed is not immediately available.

Therefore, while we will try to offer you same sex accommodation, we cannot always guarantee it.

Torbay Hospital’s commitment to privacy and dignity- 2014/15

Torbay Hospital is part of the National Health Service Delivering Same Sex Accommodation Programme. Its aim is to eliminate mixed sex accommodation in hospitals in order to offer the best possible experience to all patients. The provision of same sex accommodation is also an important part of our privacy and dignity agenda.

To ensure that patients are accommodated in same sex bays, the hospital has invested in ward improvements, including additional screening, and has increased the number of single rooms with en-suite facilities. All new ward refurbishment and redesign, undertaken as part of our current and ongoing estate developments, are carried out with particular consideration as to our commitment to provide single sex accommodation.

In all but exceptional circumstances we will place you in same sex accommodation, including sleeping facilities, and segregated washing and toilet facilities.

Torbay Hospital will only place patients in mixed-sex bays where this is necessary for providing safe patient care and treatment. If this happens, you can be assured that your interests will be taken into account. You will be told why you have been placed in a particular area and when you might be moved to same sex accommodation. We promise do our best to arrange this as quickly as possible. If at any time you are anxious about your privacy and dignity in a mixed sex bay, please tell the nurse who is looking after you so that we can resolve your concerns.

In the Emergency Assessment Unit (where there are unpredictable emergency admissions or patients needing one-to-one nursing) we will not always be able to ensure that every bay is for the same sex. Fast, effective clinical care for the patients must take priority. In a few highly specialised areas such as Recovery and Intensive Care, there are more open areas to allow close monitoring of patients’ conditions. Men and women are accommodated in the same area and where this happens, staff are expected to respect your privacy and modesty by, for example, keeping you appropriately screened and covered.

Throughout Torbay Hospital, staff are expected to care for patients in a way that reflects the principles of good practice in relation to a patient’s privacy and dignity.

The principles are:

  • Decisions should be based on the needs of the individual patient, not the constraints of the environment or for the convenience of the staff;

  • Admission units should be able to offer same sex accommodation to most of the patients for most of the time;

  • Information about the patient’s preference should be sought, recorded and, where possible, respected. Ideally, this should be in conjunction with relatives, carers and loved ones;

  • The reasons for putting a patient in a mixed sex area, and what steps will be taken to put this right, should be explained fully to the patient and her/his family or friends, as appropriate;

  • Staff should make it clear to the patient that the hospital considers mixed sex accommodation to be the exception, never the norm;

  • Segregation of the sexes should be provided where the patient’s modesty might be compromised. This includes when a patient is wearing a hospital gown or where parts of the body, other than the extremities, are exposed;

  • Protection should be provided to the patient where s/he is unable to protect his or her own modesty, for example, when semi-conscious or sedated;

  • Where mixed areas are unavoidable, transfer to same-sex accommodation should be arranged as soon as possible. Only in exceptional circumstances should this exceed 24 hours.

  • Torbay Hospital will regularly monitor what patients say about their experience of sharing mixed sex accommodation. It will act on this information.