Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals has introduced a number of innovative measures to support patients who are currently unable to receive visitors due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
A major hit has been the telephone calls made by clinically-trained Family Liaison Officers (FLOs) where the FLO provides a daily condition and wellbeing update to a named contact; using information from the patient’s record and after discussions with senior ward staff.
The FLO service has been set up by clinical staff that are currently unable to work on the frontline due to shielding, pregnancy or health/other factors. A FLO is allocated to a specific ward and, where possible, stays in regular contact with the nominated contact to provide consistency and enable a supportive relationship to develop. There is also a dedicated helpline supported 8am-8pm, seven days a week.
Kimberley Salmon Jamieson, Chief Nurse explained: “We found that many families were reluctant to telephone the wards as they were concerned about disturbing busy staff, yet were really anxious to hear how patients were. The FLO service improves patients’ experiences and general wellbeing by providing that vital communication link.
Our FLOs have taken this one step further by introducing ‘FLO-grams’ where they take down messages after their daily telephone calls to pass back to patients. These have proved hugely popular with our patients.”
The Trust has also set up scheduled ‘virtual visiting’ using iPads and Skype. Again this has proved popular, even with technologically shy patients who’ve been able to see their loved ones’ faces and have those valuable face to face conversations.
Finally, a ‘Contact a Patient’ service is now available via the Trust’s website at https://whh.nhs.uk/contact-patient Patients can receive emails through this link (printed and delivered to the ward daily) or they can receive tradition mail via letters and cards posted to the Communications Dept,. Kendrick Wing, Lovely Lane, Warrington WA5 1QG.
Kimberley Salmon Jamieson conclude: “It is worrying enough being in hospital without being able to receive and see visitors and so we hope that this trio of measures helps keep our patients a little more connected. We plan to keep some (or all!) of these services in place once the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted as long as our patients want them – it’s good to talk!”