HOSPITAL patients and care home residents across Coventry and Warwickshire are being helped to stay in touch with family and friends during the pandemic – thanks to the innovative use of technology.
Social distancing guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus mean many families and friends cannot visit each other in hospital or care settings.
Warwickshire care homes are keeping families connected by providing access to online applications, such as Zoom, Skype and Facetime, to help them stay in touch and even celebrate birthdays with ‘virtual’ birthday parties.
The daughter of one resident, who suffers from dementia, uses the technology to read her mum a book – something she always did whenever she visited in person prior to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Warwickshire County Council adult social care spokesman Coun Les Caborn said: “Helping residents look after their health and wellbeing is so important at the moment and these measures have been introduced with this in mind.
“Technology means that we can keep people connected, whether this is through sending messages, talking over the phone or even video calls. It’s great for patients to know that loved ones at home are thinking of them, even when they can’t visit.”
South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust (SWFT), which runs hospitals in Warwick, Leamington, Stratford and Shipston, has launched a Post4Patients service. This new service allows loved ones to send personal stories, photos and messages to patients by emailing the secure inbox firstname.lastname@example.org.
SWFT has also received donated mobile phones and iPads which patients can use to talk to families and friends.
Helen Lancaster, director of operations at SWFT, said: “It is extremely important for the wellbeing of our patients that they are able to keep in contact with loved ones during these challenging times and to support this we have launched a dedicated post service for them.
“With the help of volunteers, we are able to get heart felt messages to our patients from their friends and families.
“We have also been overwhelmed by extremely generous donations of iPads and mobile phones for the wards, enabling patients to keep in touch with their families.”
University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) – which also includes Hospital of St Cross at Rugby – has introduced ‘Thinking of You’, an online service through which loved ones can send messages and photographs by filling in an online form at www.uhcw.nhs.uk.
UHCW medical director Dr Sharon Binyon said: “Staying connected is important as it helps support emotional wellbeing. It can also help reduce anxiety and stress by taking service users away from their current situation and giving them the opportunity to share happy memories or talk about their plans for the future.”
Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Partnership Trust – which provides a wide range of mental health and learning disability services for people of all ages and a wide range of community physical health services for people in Coventry – have provided patients with access to tablets to make video calls. Staff are also supporting patients by using WhatsApp.