Trust listens to patients and relatives with new open hospital visiting policy

Visitors Policy
Trust listens to patients and relatives with new open hospital visiting policy
17 February 2016

PATIENTS, relatives and staff have given the thumbs up to extended and more flexible patient visiting hours which have been introduced at hospitals run by The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.

Following a successful trial at The Royal Oldham Hospital late last year, an open hospital visiting policy has been implemented at the Trust’s four main hospital sites at The Royal Oldham Hospital, North Manchester and Fairfield General Hospitals and Rochdale Infirmary.

The new policy forms part of the Trust’s aim to make our hospitals more carer and dementia friendly by giving relatives, friends and carers the chance to spend more time with their loved one at a time that suits them and have an active role in their care while they are in hospital.

Traditionally visitors were only allowed on the wards to visit their relatives at set times in the afternoon and evening.  Now however, access is available at any time of the day through discussion with ward staff.  There will however, be occasions when, for clinical reasons, visitors may be asked to come back later or move to another area of the ward for a short period of time.

A visitors’ code has been developed which sets out guidelines that visitors will be asked to adhere to and will cover areas such as numbers around a patient’s bed, preventing the spread of infection and protected mealtimes. 

Charlotte Dent, Quality matron for medicine at The Royal Oldham Hospital, said:

“Open visiting allows families easier access to medical staff, and to participate in care if the patients and families wish to do so.  It has opened up channels of communication further between nurses and their patients and families. This is particularly pertinent in relation to caring for patients with dementia. As a Trust we are busy making our hospitals more dementia friendly and open visiting will give the opportunity for the carers of patients with dementia to remain with their loved one, where appropriate, and be actively involved in their care during what can be a stressful and confusing time.

“Families can see care and deliver care alongside nurses by supporting feeding if assistance is required.  It has encouraged staff to be pro-active in working in partnership with families who have cared for their relatives at home, because we recognise that families are often the experts in their relative’s care. 

“We understand how stressful being in hospital can be both for the patient and their loved ones and know how much of a boost to a patient’s morale and recovery, visits from friends and relatives can be.  Therefore we are excited to be taking this step forward as a Trust to give more flexibility to visitors as to when they can visit and to the role they can play in the care of their loved ones.”

Carol Chadwick from High Crompton, who received care on ward F2 at The Royal Oldham Hospital, said: “Visiting used to be between 2pm and 4pm and then 7pm until 8pm when I have previously been in hospital.  When it was restricted visiting, my visitors which include my husband, daughter and son-in-law, felt that they had to stay the whole time, whereas my husband now feels he can just pop in on his way to work.  It is now flexible around my family’s jobs and finding a parking space is easier as not all visitors are arriving at the same time.”

Pictured: Charlotte Dent, quality matron from medicine, and patient Carol Chadwick at The Royal Oldham Hospital.