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6 April 2017
 
NHSG/17/17
 

100,000 people set to benefit from biggest shake up of hospital visiting


NHS Grampian have announced plans for the biggest shake up of hospital visiting times for more than a generation.

Under the proposals, current visiting times would be changed so that friends, relatives and carers are able to visit at times matching the needs and wishes of each individual patient.

The NHS Grampian Board will be asked to support the roll out of the new 'Welcome Wards' initiative at a meeting on Thursday. The move follows a review of visiting times which began last year and included a successful 3 month trial period involving Ward 102, the Geriatric Assessment Unit at ARI.

Professor Amanda Croft, Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals, said the change will benefit more than 100,000 people every year and that the health board hope to begin to introduce the changes in June.

"We know being in hospital can be a stressful, difficult time for both patients and their families and we want to do everything we can to ease that," Professor Croft said.

"There is also a lot of evidence which indicates that having appropriate support available from those close to us can significantly help with recovery."

Professor Croft continued: "We are really excited to be able to do this. In Grampian we have a long history of more open and accessible visiting times compared with some areas but, when we started looking into this last year, it was apparent we still had huge variations.

"In addition to 'open', 'extended' and 'flexible' visiting, other wards had set times in afternoons and evenings. That wasn't a situation that was easy to follow for patients or visitors.

"We've worked closely with patients, their relatives, carers as well as health and social care staff on this and we know it's something people are really keen for us to pursue

"This is no doubt that this is the biggest change to visiting we've seen in a generation and there will be need to be adjustments for everyone involved including patients, visitors and staff.

"There will be occasions when, for clinical reasons, visitors may be asked to come back later or move to another area of the ward for a short period. I think everyone can understand that. We need visitors to work with staff to do what's best for the patient and I am sure they will.

"Really, it's that spirit of cooperation and working together with patients and those closest to them to provide the best care possible that is at the very core of this change.

"We also know that some patients need space and time to rest when they are ill and would actually find round the clock visiting stressful. That's one of the reasons we haven't gone for completely open visiting instead, 'Welcome Wards' is about setting times that suit the needs, circumstances and wants of each individual patient, as well as the circumstances in the ward environment. There are a number of factors that would need to be considered.

Professor Croft continued: "Welcome Wards isn't just about visiting. It is about encouraging a more open and inclusive way of providing care for patients which is tailored to the individual person. That starts by having a conversation with the patient about what and who matters most to them and then making sure those are at the centre of their care right from the start.

"We know that being in hospital is never easy but we hope that by introducing these kind of changes we can make it as comfortable as possible."

She also said the Welcome Wards project will encourage families, carers and friends to share their experiences, thoughts and ideas as well as participate in the planning and delivery of care where it's appropriate and the patient wishes them to.

Dr Roy Soiza, Consultant Geriatrician on Ward 102 which was involved in the initial pilot of Welcome Wards, said: "The biggest benefit for me as a doctor is definitely communication with relatives and patients, particularly in the area I work. About half our patients are cognitively impaired either because they are so sick they have delirium or have dementia, so getting more time and the support of friends, relatives and carers is immensely helpful.

"Times have changed, as have peoples circumstances, and we need to adapt to make sure we are able to offer the best care and support we can. Not only that but it's the right and humane thing to do."
 
Professor Croft added: "This is the start of a huge change and, while many people will think it is the right thing to do, we are also aware that change such as this can take time to put into place and for people to get used to. For that reason, there is more work to do with staff and there will also be a public awareness raising campaign in advance of the launch of 'Welcome Wards'."