HEART OF England NHS Foundation Trust is inviting patients, carers and staff to have their say on its new ward visiting hours policy.
Already proving a hit with patients and carers, the Trust is seeking formal feedback on its new ‘open visiting’ scheme from staff at specially organised focus groups and from patients, carers and visitors through questionnaires.
First introduced in all wards across the Trust’s three hospitals – Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull Hospital – on April 1 this year with the aim of aiding patient recovery and providing a more positive hospital experience, the policy gives relatives and carers more flexibility and extended hours when visiting sick loved ones.
It also allows the opportunity for carers to remain with their loved ones and, where appropriate, be actively involved in their care.
Deputy Chief Nurse, Julie Tunney, said that while feedback ‘on the ground’ from patients and relatives has been positive, it was important for the Trust to seek formal feedback and a ‘broad spectrum of views’ to get a true reflection of the open visiting policy’s impact.
The open visiting scheme has also seen all three hospitals recognised by John’s Campaign as being welcoming to carers.
The organisation, launched in November 2014 following the death of Dr John Gerrard, lobbies for carers of those living with dementia to have the right to stay with them in hospital in the same way that parents are allowed to stay with sick children on wards.
Echoing John’s Campaign’s calls to make hospitals more dementia friendly, Ms Tunney added: “We are delighted to have been recognised by John’s Campaign as making our hospital’s welcoming to carers is a major driving force behind the introduction of open visiting across all our hospitals.
“It is widely believed that support from friends, family or carers can have a positive impact on a patient’s recovery and this is particularly true for patients with dementia.”
One person who has seen first-hand the benefit of having an open visiting policy at the Trust is Gareth Shaw – Ward Manager on Ward 11 at Good Hope Hospital which cares for elderly patients, including those suffering with dementia.
Mr Shaw said open visiting meant relatives could spend ‘quality time’ with loved ones rather than being restricted to two-hour visiting hours slots.
He added: “They can also see first-hand that the team is providing the best standards of care and they can get to know the members of staff that are caring for their loved one.
“For the staff it has also meant that they are not getting lots of questions all at once during a two-hour spell rather having conversations with relatives throughout the day so they are able to achieve their working objectives more efficiently.
“We have seen a big decrease in complaints as relatives feel more involved in their family members’ care and have a greater understanding of their care plans.
“It has been a huge improvement.”