Virtual Visits and Telephone updates for all

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has refined its system of keeping loved ones in touch while in hospital.

All patients who are unable to use a phone, can arrange for password-protected telephone updates to a nominated family member or be assisted to use 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.

Stephen Green, Associate Director of Risk & Governance, 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. A regular update call as agreed by the patient themselves, using the patient password, is always advised rather than just calling for that important update.

Stephen Green, Associate Director of Risk & Governance“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.

“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 Trust continues to have processes in place to ensure patients at end-of-life, patients with dementia, (John’s Campaign) and patients with certain learning difficulties can have visits in hospital following discussion with the ward matron, recognising the risk to the visitor and patients in these situations.

To arrange a Virtual Visit, please call 01642 624 222.

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