How an invention from the Erzgebirge region is improving patient care.

Great ideas can sometimes be very simple. Take the invention of Isabell Naundorff and Sarah Colditz, for example. The two trainees at the Erlabrunn Clinics in the Erzgebirge mountains have developed a special care and treatment console. Their idea is so good that it won an award at the regional qualifying round of Germany’s prestigious Young Researchers competition, “Jugend forscht”. At national level, it picked up a special prize from the Christoffel Mission for the Blind that recognises innovations for people with disabilities. The console is essentially a multifunctional table that can easily be attached to a patient’s bed. Isabell Naundorff: “The top is fitted with a red anti-slip mat – a colour that is easily distinguished by patients suffering from dementia and impaired colour vision. There are separate recesses for a cup, a glass and a vase. A rotating book holder can be screwed onto the base. On the back of the book holder, there’s space for a digital picture frame or a tablet computer.” Her colleague Sarah Colditz adds that a magnetic board can be attached to the book holder to take a newspaper or ludo game board. An integrated illuminated magnifying glass is also included to help with reading. “Patients who are bedridden are much better able to look after themselves using our console – they can comb their hair or even brush their teeth, for example,” explains Isabell Naundorff. Such small, everyday activities make a huge difference to a patient’s sense of dignity and independence.

Working hard instead of partying hard

The two trainees started work on the project in November 2013. While their peers were enjoying their free time, Isabell and Sarah were perfecting their console. “We find our job interesting, it’s as simple as that,” they say, smiling modestly. The basic idea for the console came from an acquaintance, but the 20- and 21-year-old trainees developed the idea, came up with a version that really worked in practice, and then entered the Young Researchers competition. Isabell and Sarah won a prize in the Working Environment category.

Practical experience at the Erlabrunn Clinics

Josef Wieder, managing director of the clinics, recognises the commitment of the two young women and has had an initial set of three consoles manufactured for use in the daily care routine. Could this be the start of mass production for the product? “That would be absolutely amazing,” say the aspiring nurses. The treatment and care console has already been registered at the Patent and Trade Mark Office in Munich – quite a feat for two trainees in the second year of their apprenticeship!