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KATE PATIENCE-QUATE: Return of person-centred visiting across NHS Highland's hospital sites is great news – though Covid has not gone away

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Different wards may be operating varied visiting policies.
Different wards may be operating varied visiting policies.

The importance of visiting within hospitals cannot be overstated, bringing comfort to both those receiving visitors and to those visiting. Contact with family and friends is a fundamental part of care for people in hospital.

We know how important involvement and contact with family is when someone is in hospital. Being able to visit or accompany a loved one to hospital can bring comfort and help to reduce stress and distress for patients and their loved ones which is an essential part of the care experience.

We know how difficult it has been for everyone involved when, due to the Covid pandemic, restrictions were placed on all of our hospital sites. For a long period of time we have only been able to accept essential visiting only. We know our patients and their families felt that and we, as we cared for your loved ones, felt it too.

Kate Patience-Quate.
Kate Patience-Quate.

I am pleased to see that from Monday we will be returning to person-centred visiting across our hospital sites.

Person-centred visiting means there are no restrictions on the number of visitors per day. However, to avoid overcrowding in our wards, we are still advising a maximum of two visitors per patient at any one time.

We can’t wait to welcome you back in to visit your loved ones as we see the difference it makes in them and we also know it makes a huge difference to all of you too.

For the majority of our hospital wards there will be no need to make an appointment to visit but in order to avoid overcrowding and ensure visiting is accessible for all, some clinical areas are still operating a scheduling system for visitors. Please speak to the ward staff directly if you are unsure how they are operating, they will be able to advise how visiting will work best.

I’d also like to remind everyone that Covid has not gone away.

Person-centred visiting means there are no restrictions on the number of visitors per day.

Testing for Covid may have stopped for most people, however continued testing within places such as care homes and hospitals shows that cases are still present, and we will all hear of someone who has had to isolate due to symptoms or because of a positive Covid test.

Therefore, we are continuing to ask people to use Covid sense, please do not visit hospital if you are unwell, maintain good hand washing and continue to wear a mask in healthcare settings, available at the hospital entrances, and take an LFD test before you visit. LFD kits can be ordered online or by phoning 119.

We are also asking that everyone be mindful of those around them and be ‘distance aware’. The distance aware scheme is designed to help those worried about mixing with others as we adapt to living with Covid-19.

Kate Patience-Quate is deputy nurse director of NHS Highland.

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