Keeping patients and families connected with ‘virtual visiting’ during Covid-19

NNUH patients and families are keeping connected during the Covid-19 pandemic thanks to a number of innovations implemented by teams across the Trust.

More than 120 tablet devices have been donated to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital over the last few weeks by local businesses and organisations and individuals.

This means that the Trust has been able to carry out ‘virtual visiting’ for all wards and Critical Care Complex, those with patients with Covid-19 being the first to benefit from this generosity.

The Trust has also established the Relatives’ Liaison team, which comprises of clinical staff who are unable to work on the wards due health and shielding requirements, who have volunteered to act as a link between patients’ relatives and ward staff during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The service aims to offer peace of mind to patients’ loved ones whilst visiting is not possible or very restricted on inpatient wards because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Clinical Educator Stuart Callow, who leads the team, said: “We’ve not forgotten that so many people in our community will be anxious and worried, unable to visit loved ones, and with this service we can reassure people that those closest to them are being holistically cared for. Our new service does not replace the clinical conversations that doctors have with patients’ relatives. Instead, we are here to ease pressure off ward staff and alleviate some of the anxieties for relatives of patients.

“Every day we contact as many wards as possible to get a handover of a patient’s overall health and future developments in their care. Then we phone relatives giving priority to those who are more vulnerable, such as those who can’t use Skype or video calls to keep in touch with their loved ones.

“Speaking to patients’ relatives feels really rewarding as many have told me how much they appreciate being kept up to date from both us and colleagues working on the wards.”

 The hospital’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) have also stepped up to provide a ‘message to your loved one’ service enabling emails or messages sent via the portal on the NNUH website to reach family and friends on the wards.

Sarah Higson, Lead for Patient Engagement and Experience said: “We know that enabling people to see each other as well as speak to each other will make for much more meaningful communication and will make a huge difference to them. This is helping to reunite couples; parents, children and grandchildren and we know this means the world to them. This is also really important for our staff: knowing that you have done all you can for your patients and their loved ones is a major morale booster. Going the extra mile is hard wired into our teams and having access to this resource makes caring that bit easier.”

Professor Nancy Fontaine, NNUH Chief Nurse, added: “Our innovative and creative patient engagement work has been incredibly powerful in keeping families connected. Moreover we have created a phenomenal Relatives’ Liaison service for the future so that we always have a robust open communication channel between the hospital, patients, families and carers.”

The Relatives’ Liaison team

Thursday 7th of May 2020 09:58:24 AM