Virtual visiting provides comfort to ward patients in Dorset

4th May 2020

All inpatients at Dorset’s community hospitals and mental health units can now video call loved ones and unite with family and friends, following the launch of a virtual visiting service.

The innovative idea was developed by Dorset HealthCare to bring comfort to patients, who are unable to have face-to-face visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patients and their loved ones can now request to speak to one another on a hand-held tablet, and a dedicated staff member will make arrangements for a video call.

Family members or friends just need to log in to the platform via the Trust’s website at the agreed time. The staff member will be on hand to start the virtual visit for the patient, as well as support them throughout the call where necessary.

Members of the Trust’s Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) team are running the project day-to-day in a number of our inpatient wards, after being redeployed to various sites across Dorset. As the team move back into their main roles, the ward staff will continue to support the project.

Leading the initiative is Karole Smith, Project Team Manager at Dorset HealthCare. She said:

“Since we were forced to restrict all but the most essential visits to our sites, staff from a range of different teams have all been working extremely hard to arrange this facility for our patients.

“We are very pleased to be able to provide a little bit of joy to both the patients and their loved ones. Seeing a family member or friend face-to-face via a video call will make a big difference at a time they are unable to see each other in the normal way.

“Virtual visiting has also created a positive feeling for staff, who want to support patients and families the best way they can during the pandemic.”

A strict infection, prevention and control process is being followed when using the tablets so patients and staff are protected against spreading the COVID-19 virus.

Although the virtual visiting service has been created to deal with impacts of the pandemic, it’s hoped that it will be a way patients and loved ones can keep in touch in the future. It will benefit patients who may have relatives living further afield or who are unable to travel to an inpatient ward.

If your family member is a patient at one of the Trust’s community hospitals or mental health inpatient units, you can contact the site directly and request a virtual visiting video call.

Find out more here.

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