Patient visiting is still largely restricted at Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley and South Ribble Hospital due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the recent lockdown of Preston has served to underline the reasons why it is so important to minimise the risk of spreading the infection amongst patients, visitors and staff.
Staff at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which manages both hospitals, understand how difficult this is for families and are keen to ensure they have up to date information on their loved ones’ care and are reassured in these challenging times.
In order to help people get their calls answered as quickly as possible, staff are asking families to nominate one person who could channel information about the patient to other family members to avoid multiple calls about individual patients. This would significantly reduce the number of calls and free up more time for staff to liaise with each family group.
With wards extremely busy across the Trust, it is also helpful if staff and families can agree the best time to call for updates. Every ward is different although most are busiest up until about 11am and during meal times. Some families have experienced frustration when trying to contact wards for updates, particularly on weekends, so establishing quieter times when staff are able to answer promptly and give the most up to date information will help resolve this.
On the Critical Care Unit, this is something that can be arranged individually with families, due to the complexity of patients’ cases. The team will work directly with families to ensure the smooth deliverance of updates and information in what can be a very sad and difficult time.
Back in April, the Trust launched the Connected Hearts campaign, which aims to provide some comfort to both patients and their families while visiting is prohibited and they cannot be together. Patients are given a handmade, crocheted heart and their family receive a matching heart to remind them that they are still with each other even if not in the physical sense.
The roll-out of iPads across wards has proven extremely helpful to families, who can now video call and message their relatives to see how they are. The Trust plans to invest in more of these in the coming months.
Sarah Cullen, Nursing, Midwifery and AHP Director at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“We know that visiting restrictions are hard for both families and patients and like everyone else we look forward to a time when these rules will no longer be necessary. In the meantime, our staff are really keen to work very closely with families to keep them updated about their loved ones. Although the numbers of Covid cases within our hospitals are low at the moment, we are exceptionally busy and there are occasions when we are so focused on providing practical patient care that it becomes difficult to answer the phone straightaway. There are things that relatives can do to help such as having a single nominated contact for each family and liaising with wards about the best times to call, and we would like to thank everyone for their patience and support.
“We would also like to stress that for patients receiving end of life care, visiting is permitted, even in cases where the patient has Covid-19. Where this is the case we follow very strict safety control procedures to keep loved ones safe at what is a very distressing time.”
To stay up to date with visiting guidelines, go to: https://www.lancsteachinghospitals.nhs.uk/visiting-times.