09 March 2021
Virtual visiting and a drop-off service for patients' belongings are among a number of innovations implemented by Health and Community Services during the pandemic to keep patients and families connected.
The Patient Advisory Liaison Service (PALS) prioritised keeping patients in touch with their loved ones from the comfort of home or Hospital bed using technology. This includes the use of video calls and a 'share a message' service within the General Hospital and Mental Health facilities.
PALS Manager, Nicola De Jesus said: "We've been providing access and support in the use of mobile tablets or hand-held communication devices and we use an app called Starleaf for video calls between patients and their family and friends. We are also helping to bring patients and their loved ones closer together by sharing messages and photos. Messages are sent to the ward and photos printed and put at the patient's bedside.
"We have provided a drop-off service for patients' belongings whereby relatives can contact PALS with their drop-off request and we then helped to facilitate delivery to the ward. This really helps patients and gives relatives a certain amount of relief knowing that their loved ones have their home comforts with them."
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and with visiting restricted in Hospital and Mental Health facilities for patient and staff safety, relatives also wanted to provide family members with their personal belongings, such as pyjamas, toothbrush, wash bag and their favourite books.
PALS is also due to pilot a new digital messaging service called 'With You'. The service automatically generates a telephone number and a unique pin to share with friends and family, who can call and leave a message. These messages are then digitally collated and edited together into a voice album, which is shared with patients via their own mobile device or a loan device from the Hospital.
Chief Nurse, Rose Naylor said: "Our PALS service is a critical link between our ward staff, patients and relatives. We are making contact easier for staff, patients and relatives by offering additional technology solutions alongside the usual phone calls patients and relatives, whilst relatives are comforted knowing that they can send messages or belongings to their loved ones through a dedicated patient advice and support service."
More information on the Patient Advisory Liaison Service (PALS) during the pandemic can be found here.