Isolated patients find virtual comfort through technology

Isolated patients at a St Annes hospital have been keeping in touch with loved ones thanks to virtual technology and caring staff.

Assistant Practitioner, Dawn Johnson, has been connecting with patients’ friends and family thanks to an iPad and Apple FaceTime in the Covid-19 isolation Ward 1 at Clifton Hospital on Pershore Road.

Dawn said: “Covid-19 has brought many changes, not only to staff and patients on Ward 1, Clifton Hospital, but also to those families and friends who are unable to visit loved ones in their greatest hour of need.

“Modern technology, in the form of Apple FaceTime has come to the rescue by enabling patients to see and speak to their nearest and dearest.

Due to current visiting restrictions, patients are not able to see their loved ones in person because of the risk of spreading Covid-19.

However, families and friends can request to call their special someone at any time of the day or night. This ability to virtually chat with a loved one has proved vital, especially when the patient is receiving end of life care.

Dawn said: “Words cannot express the depth of feelings I have encountered when facilitating a FaceTime call.

“Among some of the most touching calls involved a grandson in Canada being able to say goodbye to his grandmother while her daughter was by her side to hold her hand.

“I connected nieces and nephews in Botswana who were able to see their loved one for the first time in 14 years.

A lady in Fleetwood had to self-isolate and had not been able to visit her husband. This couple had never been apart in 67 years. How beautiful to see the barriers of loneliness lifted just through a virtual call.”

Where possible, the hospital can accept visitors when the patient is nearing end of life. This is decided on an individual basis and takes various risks into consideration.

Clifton’s Clinical Matron, Courtney Bickerdike, said “It’s so wonderful to hear how the staff at Clifton have embraced this difficult change.

“I am moved by these stories and how loved ones have been able to speak to their families at such a hard time.”

Dawn added: “Being able to witness the joy the patient experienced and the tears of happiness from their family and friends is something I will always remember.

“The interaction, joy and feeling of togetherness that FaceTime offers is paramount, not only to all families and friends but to those who matter most – our patients.”

FaceTime chat is available at both Clifton Hospital and Blackpool Victoria Hospital. If you have a loved one in any of these wards and would like to speak to them via FaceTime, please contact your ward manager to arrange.

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