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5 May 2020

Sheffield Hospitals and Sheffield Hospitals Charity launch special support service to help loved ones keep in touch during COVID-19 visiting restrictions

In response to visiting limitations at hospitals due to COVID-19, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, kindly supported by Sheffield Hospital’s Charity, has launched a relative support service to help friends and family stay in touch with loved ones whilst in hospital.

The service encompasses several elements of support including a dedicated relative support hotline, a keep in touch email message service and the provision of Quran cubes, where requested.

The relatives support line will be open Monday - Friday from 9am to 4pm and will allow relatives to phone in to request an update on patients during this period of limited visiting. The patient’s next of kin, or one other identified relative, will be able to phone the dedicated line and request an update on the patient. The nursing team will then call the relative back the same day with an update on their loved ones condition and this person can then act as the main contact to share this with any wider family. Relatives with patients on critical care are asked to continue to liaise with critical care staff.

The Keeping in Touch messaging service will act as another way for relatives to communicate with loved ones in hospital by sending in messages and photos through a dedicated email inbox. The inbox will be checked seven days a week and any messages and photos will be printed and delivered to the patient within 24 hours. This service has been kindly funded through donations to Sheffield Hospital’s Charity.

For Muslim patients, A Quran cube can also be obtained via chaplaincy services and provided to patients. A Quran cube is a small speaker which recites the Quran and may help to bring comfort to Muslim patients during this difficult period of limited visiting.

The Trust has also provided phones and iPads on all wards for patients to use if they don’t have their own device.

Professor Chris Morley, Chief Nurse at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said, “We know it is a really difficult time for patients and their families who are unable to see loved-ones directly due to current restrictions on visiting. We’ve launched this support service to help provide a vital link between patients and their families and friends during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope that whilst patients are in hospital, this will provide some additional comfort to them and help ensure families can access regular updates and information on their loved ones. We are very grateful for the support of Sheffield Hospitals Charity who have enabled these important services to be developed so quickly.”

Adrian Stone, Chairman of Sheffield Hospitals Charity, said: "The charity is really pleased to be able to fund such an important and innovative service at what is undoubtedly a challenging time for so many patients and their loved ones. Being able to keep in touch is vital for patients and we are delighted that the trust has been able to launch this service. Of course, though, we have only been able to fund this as a result of the generosity of our supporters who are showing solidarity with the NHS at this time, and so our thanks goes to all of you. If you are still able to help, then please do visit our website as we are continuing to do all that we can to support the trust."

Visiting is currently not allowed on all wards unless in exceptional circumstances to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

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