York coronavirus patients can now enjoy virtual family visits – thanks to donated iPads

Members of the nursing team from a Covid 19 ward with the iPads. Photograph: York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
17 Apr 2020 @ 6.28 pm
| News

People hospitalised with Covid-19 are now able to enjoy regular ‘visits’ from loved ones – thanks to donated iPads.

Visitors are not allowed on the coronavirus wards at York and Scarborough Hospitals. As a result staff had witnessed many heart-breaking situations which could have been made a little bit better if families could communicate with their loved ones.

So they were delighted when the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust were offered the iPads to connect their patients with family for a virtual visit.

The technology comes courtesy of staff at Hull York Medical School. They have donated and set up the university’s iPads for use by the most vulnerable patients on Covid-19 wards.

Amazing help for sick patients

York Hospital. Photograph: YorkMix

Dr Hester Baverstock set the ball rolling thanks to a chance message to someone at Hull York Medical School.

She said:

  • I couldn’t believe the speed with which our colleagues at the university reacted and their generosity in giving their own free time to set up the iPads to make this happen.

    In less than 24 hours we were using iPads on the wards so that the sickest of patients could see and speak to their loved ones.

The trust now has around 36 iPads for use on wards and these are also helping patients in other areas who cannot have their family visiting.

Dr Baverstock, who is a graduate and clinical tutor for the medical school, continued: “It’s not a new idea but it’s been an amazing tool to help people in extremely upsetting and difficult circumstances.”

How to book a virtual visit

Cardiology consultant, Dr Nigel Durham has backed the initiative and has drafted in volunteers and support staff to help organise regular virtual visiting times for patients via the iPads.

Dr Durham said: “We are very grateful to our colleagues at Hull York Medical School for providing this technology that is making such a difference to patients and families at these most difficult of times. Dr Baverstock’s idea is inspirational.

“Our staff are working so hard in extraordinary circumstances during the coronavirus pandemic and it has been a great relief for them to be able to connect families whom are not able to be by the side of their loved ones.’

The Hull York Medical School student liaison teams based at York and Scarborough hospitals are helping co-ordinate the project and are expecting more iPads donated by Nestle and BT so the service can be made more widely available.

A booking system is being made available so relatives can book a ‘virtual visit’ with their loved ones.  Families can email [email protected] for a visit or they can call the wards directly.