West Sussex hospital trust secures ipads and smartphones, and launches messaging service so patients can contact loved ones

With visiting restricted, staff at Worthing Hospital and St Richard’s Hospital are supporting families to keep in touch with their loved ones while in hospital.

Worthing Hospital, part of Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has secured 42 iPads and a number of smartphones that have been put in wipe-clean protective cases and are available on the wards for voice and video calls between patients and their loved ones.

Chief Nurse, Maggie Davies, said: “When someone you care about is in hospital, you want to be in touch.

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“You want to be able to check how they are, tell them they are loved and reassure them that you are thinking of them and want them to get better as quickly as possible.

“Even though we can’t let a lot of people in to say that face to face, we want to make sure those messages can still get through.

“The visiting restrictions we have had to put in place are essential to keep patients and staff safe from infection, but we are determined to continue to find alternatives that support our patients and their loved ones.”

The trust has also launched a new personal messaging service.

The service is available 24/7 by email and telephone for people to leave messages for patients.

Dr Davies said: “It’s hard enough when someone you care about is in hospital, but when you can’t visit them it’s even harder.

“And while our ward staff give outstanding care, we know people are feeling isolated in our hospitals without regular visiting to look forward to.

“Our patients do better with personal contact from the people they love, so we are doing all we can to use technology to keep people in touch.”

The new system allows relatives and friends to send an email to a dedicated email address.

Once an email has been received, the Trust’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) team will print and laminate the messages (including photographs) and then pass them to ward teams to be delivered to patients.

The PALS team will also transcribe telephone messages and deliver those for friends or relatives who don’t have access to email.

Messages will be delivered to patients every weekday.

People leaving messages should give the name of the patient, the name of the ward the patient is being cared for on and their own name and contact details.

In addition, If you have a message you would like to send please email [email protected]

Alternatively, call PALS to leave a message, which will be transcribed and printed.

For Worthing PALS call 01903 285032.

For St Richard’s PALS call 01243 831822.

An answerphone is available 24/7.

Due to the current restrictions in place, the only visitors currently allowed in Western Sussex Hospitals are:

– A single birth partner for a woman in labour

– A single parent/carer for a child in paediatrics (no siblings allowed)

– A single parent/carer for a baby in our neonatal units

– Carers with a carer’s passport or a carer’s card

– Visitors for an end-of-life patient.

To ensure compassion while delivering safe care, the number of visitors permitted at this time will be at the ward manager’s discretion.

These restrictions may be relaxed in exceptional circumstances only – please contact the ward manager if you need to discuss.

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