Relatives, friends and carers visiting patients at Chesterfield Royal Hospital have given the recent trial of a longer visiting day the thumbs-up for convenience, improved communication and for allowing them to be more involved in their loved-one’s care.
For the last three months, a handful of wards have been open throughout various times of day – to see what the impact would be. And over the Christmas holidays, all the general medical, surgical and orthopaedic wards opened their doors to visitors for more hours a day - to help people keep in touch over the festive season.
Both pilots have proved such a success these longer visiting hours are to be extended with immediate effect.
It means that patients on: All medical wards and orthopaedic trauma wards (Portland and Robinson) can have visitors from 10am-8pm; The emergency management unit/clinical decisions unit, surgical wards and the elective orthopaedic ward (Murphy) can be visited from 2pm-8pm (the slightly reduced time to take account of the different clinical care patients on these wards require).
Commenting on the decision, made by the hospital’s senior nursing team at the end of last week, Jayne Tague, head of nursing for surgical services, said: “The pilots have been very successful and we know it’s improved communication with patients and their families – as the ward matron has more time to discuss issues of concern; or answer questions about a loved-one’s care.”
Head of nursing for medicine and emergency care, Mark Hill said: “Staggering visiting throughout the day is more convenient on site as well. There’s no mad rush for car parking at 2.30pm. On medical wards, where patients are often acutely unwell, the extended hours have also allowed relatives to come in at lunch time – helping and encouraging their loved-one’s to eat. It’s also enabled relatives to feel more involved in their loved-one’s care if they want to be more hands-on.”
In 2006, the Royal, with support from governors and members, cut its visiting hours to just two hours in an afternoon; and one and a half in the evenings. This was at a time when the Trust was concerned about rates of infections including MRSA and Clostridium difficile.
Since then the hospital has invested in a range of improvements that have reduced rates of hospital-acquired infections to some of the lowest in the country. Hand hygiene promotion and infection prevention advice has also helped to keep community infections like Norovirus at bay.
Jayne Tague added: “We will be monitoring this closely, but if visitors appreciate longer opening hours come with responsibilities for them as well there shouldn’t be any issues.
“And in the pilots visitors have been very supportive - to make sure that our vulnerable patients stay safe.”
The hospital has revived its visiting code, which sets out a range of rules including asking visitors: To help to prevent the spread of infection by using the hand hygiene stations to wash and gel hands as they go in and out of wards; To visit for around two hours at a time – not to stay all day; Not to bring food and drink for themselves or patients on to the wards; To keep children under the age of 11 at home; unless visiting is for specific reason and has been agreed in advance with the ward matron; Not to sit on beds – and to have a maximum of two people at the bedside at any one time; To stay at home if they have flu-like symptoms or diarrhoea and vomiting (until they have been symptom-free for 48 hours); To stay at home for 48 hours before they visit if they have been in close contact with anyone who has a contagious infection including diarrhoea and vomiting; By appreciating that when on the ward staff may need to ask visitors to move for a short time so they can carry out their normal duties – such as cleaning; To speak to staff straight away if they have any concerns or worries, so they can be resolved as quickly as possible.
The change to the new visiting times on theses wards is immediate. Other areas in the hospital including the children’s ward, maternity ward and ITU keep their current arrangements.