Keeping in touch with loved ones is proving to be the best remedy for patients at Rotherham Hospital thanks to new tablet devices funded by NHS charities.
To help stop the spread of Covid-19, hospitals across the country placed restrictions on visitors in March 2020. To keep families connected, the Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity has funded 14 Samsung tablets and cases.
The £3,500 equipment has been installed with the latest software and apps to allow patients to video call their families and friends.
During lockdown Hannah Hall, Engagement and Inclusion Lead at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, managed a cohort of Patient Communications Facilitators – redeployed staff who volunteered to help keep patients in touch with their families.
“People can be rushed to hospital with little warning, they either don’t have their phone with them, it runs out of battery or they simply don’t own one. Video calls have been a lifeline for them, and for people who would usually be visiting them. We’ve seen lots of tears and ‘I love you’s’ as they see their families,” she said.
“Staying in hospital can be a difficult and emotional time with the current situation, but seeing the familiar face of a loved one, even via a video call, can make patients feel less vulnerable and isolated.
“Patients and their families are incredibly grateful that we have this equipment to connect them. It improves the health and wellbeing of our patients and reassures families their loved one is in good hands.”
The tablets will be used across all wards at Rotherham Hospital, including critical care, maternity services and the Purple Butterfly rooms, which provide end of life care.
Funding for the tablets has been made possible thanks to NHS Charities Together following their successful nationwide Covid-19 fundraising appeal.
During lockdown and when restricted visiting was imposed, calls were pre-arranged with the Patient Communications Team. Those colleagues are now back in their substantive posts with ward staff now using the devices.
The family of Eddie Leigh, of Aston, who sadly passed away aged 86 on Ward A2 on April 17, donated a Samsung tablet inscribed with a heartfelt message which says: “Donated by the daughters of Eddie Leigh to the staff who helped and loved our dad at a time when we couldn’t be with him. We hope this helps people to see and talk to their loved ones even when they are miles apart.”
One of Eddie’s five daughters, Olivia Torr, said: “My sisters and I are all from different parts of the country and some have underlying health conditions too, so visiting dad in hospital during lockdown was difficult. But we could keep in touch with dad thanks to the wonderful ward staff and an iPad, which I brought from home.
“Having access to the tablet meant we could all chat and laugh together and more importantly, we got the chance to see him when he was alive. It was the closest thing we got to all being with him as family. Every time we video called him, we got the chance to say ‘I love you’ and dad always made us laugh, even when ill, and without that we’d have been even more devastated.
“People have family members who live all over the world now so having tablets for people to stay in touch with their loved ones is so important. Our dad was the kindest, loveliest gentleman and he would be so proud to think there’s a tablet in his name at Rotherham Hospital helping families to stay in touch too.”
The charity also received five additional iPads from youngsters Esme, nine, and 12-year-old Reuben Gillam, who raised £1,734 in memory of their great uncle Jeff Gillam. He sadly passed away at Rotherham Hospital on 14 April aged 73. For the past 10 years Jeff had lived at the Laureate Court Care Home in Wellgate, Rotherham.
Mum Nicola Gillam, of Watton-at-Stone, Herts, said: “It meant the world to us that the NHS nurses and doctors cared for uncle Jeff when he had Covid-19 and we couldn’t visit him. We didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to him but we hope other people can speak to their loved ones on these iPads. We want to say thank you to the amazing NHS and care workers who looked after uncle Jeff and that’s why the children fundraised to buy them.”
Martin Havenhand, Chairman of The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, added: “We’d like to thank Reuben, Esme, Olivia and her family for donating tablets to Rotherham Hospital as well as NHS Charities Together for supporting us.
“Technology is brilliant when it brings people together and we are very grateful we can continue to help families stay in touch with their loved ones while we care for them.”
For more information about how you can help the Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity support staff, patients and families during coronavirus, please visit http://www.therotherhamft.nhs.uk/Fundraising/Coronavirus-Support_Your_NHS/ or get in touch via 01709 426821 or firstname.lastname@example.org.