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Patient visiting has been suspended across the NHS - apart from in exceptional circumstances - due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to protect patients, staff and the public.
Hospitals have therefore worked hard to put alternative arrangements in place to ensure patients have regular communication with their loved ones and those family members are in turn fully informed of latest developments.
Some of the measures that have been implemented at Royal Papworth Hospital include a financial investment in tablets - distributed by the digital team - to allow patients to make video calls and taking a delivery of photos of family members to pass onto a patient.
This work has been complemented throughout by the newly-formed family liaison team.
The team comprises staff from across Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust who have been redeployed because their normal role is 'paused' during COVID-19.
A nominated family member or friend of each critical care patient can email the team with a list of questions they would like answering that day. The team call that nominated individual once each day to provide an update and answer any queries that have been asked.
An incredibly emotional role, the team has gelled together quickly to form an effective service, with plenty of positive feedback from patients' families for the work they are doing. Here are just a few of the comments below, which we have anonymised:
"The promise of a daily phone call with a member of the team has been continually met and has enabled me to have confidence that this will take place. I have found this to be a quality update, a quality time for me to ask whatever questions I have, and to seek clarification on areas I don’t understand. If the member of staff has been unsure of an answer, further clarification has been sought with another professional and an explanation always given. On each occasion I have been treated with care and compassion. Information has been given to me in a considerate but truthful manner."
"Thank you so much for your call today which even though wasn’t always easy listening, was very helpful in explaining things that had previously been difficult to understand."
"Whilst it has been torturous waiting each day for our phone call, when it has come everything has been explained carefully and patiently. Even though we have been unable to see [name removed], we have felt at all times that he has been in the best possible hands and being completely looked after by the best staff. Words fail me as to how I can thank you all for the care he has received up until now and the ongoing care still to come."