The importance of support from family members to people in hospital cannot be overstated, bringing comfort to family, patients and staff. However, we need to carefully balance this with the additional potential risks to patients, family members and staff that visiting brings.
Due to the increasing challenges faced as a result of the new Omicron variant, and in order to protect the safety of our patients and staff, the difficult decision has been taken to operate essential-only visiting from Wednesday 5 January 2022 in our adult hospital wards.
This change will include maternity services meaning only one essential visitor will be permitted in all parts of the maternity pathway. Further information on maternity visiting can be found on the NHSGGC Webpage.
Exceptions to this are paediatrics and neonates where a maximum of two visitors per day is recommended.
Jennifer Rodgers, Deputy Nurse Director at NHSGGC, said: “This has been one of the hardest decisions to take but it is essential to help protect our patients, visitors and staff. We recognise how difficult this is for patients and the people that matter most to them and we will keep this under close review so that restrictions are not in place any longer than is necessary.
“This decision has been reached in conjunction with senior infection control, public health, clinical and operational teams, and in the best interests of patient wellbeing.
Jennifer added: “Essential visiting arrangements will be applied flexibly and compassionately, and each patient’s needs considered on their own merits. Carers, those providing essential care or emotional support, or spiritual care are not considered to be visitors and will continue to be permitted to attend a patient in hospital.
“Essential visits will be supported wherever possible and include the following illustrative examples:
Angela O’Neil Deputy Nurse Director said: “we recognise how difficult it is for families being apart, especially when their loved one is unwell. Where possible ward staff will continue to support patients to maintain contact with those closest to them however due to the extreme pressures staff are under if may not be possible to give an exact time or day when a video call or telephone call can be guaranteed. We are sorry for any distress this may cause and of course, staff will always try to facilitate these calls where possible, however we ask for your understanding while we try to manage under very challenging circumstances. Further information on arranging a virtual visit can be found on the NHSGGC Webpages.
Angela added: “The successful ‘Give and Go Service’ available earlier in the pandemic will be remobilised for family to drop-off essential personal items for patients and to pick up laundry etc. The service will be available from Wednesday 5 January 2022, and thereafter Monday – Friday as follows:
“Please speak to ward staff who will advise of local arrangements for dropping off and collecting belongings.
“Further information can be found on the Give and Go Webpage.
“We would like to thank our patients and their loved ones in advance for their patience and support during this incredibly difficult and challenging time.”
This guidance will be applied with as much flexibility and compassion as possible. Staff will consider each patient’s needs on an individual basis.
Carers, those providing essential care or emotional support, or spiritual care are not considered visitors for the purposes of this guidance so should continue to be permitted to attend a patient in hospital, including in areas where essential visits only are in place.
Please remind patients and families of the risks of visiting of potential spread of COVID-19, and support patients and family members to weigh up the benefits of their visit against the potential risk that they may post, and consider if a virtual visit may be a safer alternative.
We ask in the strongest possible way that you have a negative lateral flow test a maximum of 24 hours prior to your visit – the nearer to the visit the better.
All family members should wear a Fluid Resistant Surgical Mask (not a face covering) for the duration of their visit in a hospital building, unless exempt. If you do not have a Fluid Resistant Surgical Mask, we can provide you with one.
Where in-person support is not possible for any reason, a patient will be supported to use the hospital iPad or their own personal mobile or tablet to maintain contact with the people who matter to them.
Further information about Person Centred Virtual Visiting is available on the NHSGGC website.