It is 12 months since the whole of the country entered the very first lockdown due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was a situation no-one had ever experienced before – and something we hope we will never see again.
In this series of real short stories, we hear from ordinary Wirral people about events that affected them this past year.
This is Marg, Lead Nurse for Patient Safety and Family Support from Wirral University Teaching Hospital. The Family Support Team have been helping patients and relatives to stay connected.
“The Family Support Team at WUTH has played a vital role in helping to keep patients connected with their families throughout the pandemic.
“It was set up in April 2020 to ensure patients could keep in contact with their loved ones when important visiting restrictions were put in place at the Trust’s Arrowe Park and Clatterbridge hospitals to protect people from the spread of COVID-19.
“Our Chief Nurse, Hazel Richards, was very keen that during the visiting restrictions patients would still be able to communicate with loved ones.
“The Family Support Team was set up to be a liaison between the patient and the next of kin. Team members also act as a case worker to keep families informed about a patient.
“Our duties also include passing on belongings for patients that family members bring in. We also provide a means for people who don’t have their own communication methods such as mobile phones, to communicate with their families with a tablet or a phone. That is really important as that communication is the patient’s lifeline with the outside world.”
The team has up to three staff based in the Patient Experience Hub at Arrowe Park Hospital and up to three staff who act as case workers, depending on need at any particular time. They are also supported by dedicated volunteers.
“The patients and families we have helped have been really grateful. We do build up a good relationship with relatives, particularly when they are asking for regular video conversations with patients which is especially important to older patients. They just feel so much better connected with their relatives.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, the team was set up within a week. The staff that have worked on the team have been amazing and have learned so much from speaking to relatives.
“It has also been very emotional, especially when asked to take photographs of grandchildren to patients who are at end of life. We do also facilitate visiting at our hospitals in exceptional circumstances such as where a patient is receiving end of life care, has a learning difficulty or dementia as well as a range of other permitted exceptions.
“It has been an honour and an absolute privilege to lead the Family Support Team. It has been a pleasure to be able to help patients and relatives at such a difficult time.”
Want to read more COVID-19 stories?