Yeovil Hospital is using wooden hearts to help maintain the bond between patients nearing the end of life and their families. Each heart can be customised with a message from a loved one to stay with the patient throughout their time in hospital.

The hospital is continuing to make visiting available to patients at the end of life, with appropriate support and guidance to ensure visitors and patients are kept safe.

Rob Lutyens, nurse consultant, palliative care and end of life, explains:
“As someone comes to the end of their life, the staff at Yeovil Hospital are very used to providing support for the whole family. This is certainly more challenging at the moment and we are unable to do this in the usual ways as family members are not always able to visit. This does remain hugely important to us and good communication is essential. The small gesture of the wooden hearts can go a long way to helping our patients and their families feel more connected and they have been really appreciated.”

With visiting restrictions in place for the safety of patients and their families, the staff at Yeovil Hospital have introduced a variety of ways to get in touch.

Chief nurse Shelagh Meldrum added: “Support from family and friends is really important for our patients’ recovery. As we have had to introduce very restrictive visiting guidelines, our staff have been working hard to implement a variety of options and new technology that we hope meet the needs of every family to ensure they can keep in touch.

“We are encouraging patients to use their own devices to use the free NHS wifi to make calls or video calls. We just ask patients to be respectful by not filming other patients or staff. We also have a limited number of android tablets and iPads on the wards to aid video calls when needed.

“It is also important to recognise that every family is different and we would encourage anyone struggling with contact at this time to call the ward and we can work with you to help find the best way for you to speak to your loved one or gain regular updates on progress. That may include a nominated family member/friend who can cascade updates or letters or emails that we can either give to the patient or read to them.”

Rob added: “One of my favourite moments from last week was supporting a patient to use an iPad to receive a video call from their loved ones on their birthday. Caring for our patients’ wellbeing alongside their medical needs makes such a difference for them, their families and also our staff. It really shows the Yeovil Hospital ethos of caring for you as if you are one of our family.”


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