Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have refined our virtual visits system of keeping loved ones in touch while in hospital.
Patients who are unable to use a phone can arrange for password-protected telephone updates to a nominated family member. Alternatively, we can assist them in using a donated iPad to enjoy a virtual visit.
Most patients prefer to speak with family members themselves, allowing Trust staff to focus on providing updates for patients who are unable or feel too unwell to make a call. The password system maintains confidentiality at all times.
For the Virtual Visits, using donated iPads, the Trust has allocated several administration staff who will go to the ward at the time of the ‘visit’ and set up a video-call for the patient and their loved ones at home.
Why do we need virtual visits?
Stephen Green is Associate Director of Risk and Governance. He said: “We know how hard it is for patients and their loved ones to be separated, but the need to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and its risk to our patients and staff left us no choice but to stop all visits in person.
“On some wards, the enhanced levels of Personal Protection Equipment make answering a ringing telephone more difficult than usual due to the time needed to remove the equipment safely. We advise a regular update call as agreed by the patient themselves, using the patient password rather than just calling for that important update.
“We also have a duty to also maintain the confidentiality of our patients and therefore Virtual Visits and telephone updates can only take place with the express permission of the patient, so we encourage families to have these discussions.
“I know we all hope the day we can open up our hospitals for visiting again comes sooner rather than later. Until then, our staff will be hard at work caring for our patients and maintaining the safest possible environment.”
The following patients can still have visits in hospital following discussion with the ward matron:
- Patients at end-of-life
- Patients with dementia (John’s Campaign)
- Patients with certain learning difficulties
Keeping in touch while in hospital
Stephen Green, associate director of risk and governance: The national guidelines advise that we need to keep the number of footfall through the organisation as minimal as possible.
This reduces the possibility of transmission of Covid between staff, patients, relatives and carers.
We recognise this is really hard for families at home.
We realise that being apart from your loved ones is so hard when they have been admitted to hospital.
We’re doing our very best to make that as easy as possible.
We have processes like digital visiting in which you can make an appointment to have an iPad brought to your loved one so you can have that face-to-face contact.
We support that and are increasing that process to wider areas in the organisation with an investment in technology to make that occur.
And we also have the ability to make sure that you have an appointment for an update for your nearest and dearest while they’re in hospital.
We appreciate that not knowing what’s going on can be really, really hard for people.
We appreciate that you have had relationships with people for a long, long time and all of a sudden being unable to continue that relationship is incredibly difficult.
But, our responsibility is safety.
We need to make sure that people that you care for, are cared for and we manage their risks.
We do make sure that you can contact us through a telephone number – 01642 624222 – to allow you to make an appointment for digital visiting and for an update.
That will hopefully help to at least address some of your concerns.
And we also, for those people who are at end-of-life, or those who are what we call ‘John’s Campaign’ – we do support some visiting.
But this needs to be negotiated with your ward matron and your clinicians to make sure that you are fully aware of the risks that are involved for you and those that you care for.
But we will support you in this very, very difficult time.
We have a great team at home. They are some of our clinical staff who are unable to work for a range of reasons, but have been amazing in their contribution to making sure you can contact your loved one.
They are diligently working between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Sunday to make these appointments. To make sure that you have the contact that you need, with the people who you truly care for.