i-CONNECT: How iPads are helping COVID patients and their families

20 April 2020
Ipads Covid

Staff with i-Pads connecting COVID-19 patients with their families

Technology is providing vital communication in the most difficult of circumstances for patients suffering from COVID 19 on hospital wards. Hull York Medical School has been working with York Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust staff to provide iPads to connect their patients with family for a virtual visit.

Dr Hester Baverstock, a graduate of Hull York Medical School and a Cardiology Teaching Fellow at York Teaching Hospital NHS Trust started the initiative together with support from Vijay Jayagopal, Clinical Dean for the Medical School and a Consultant at York Hospital.

Hester says: ‘As a doctor working on the Covid 19 ward I recognised how hard it is for patients not to be able to see their loved ones. Using technology is a great way to enable them to connect during what is a difficult time. I couldn’t believe the speed with which our colleagues at the Medical School 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 continued: “It’s not a new idea but it’s been an amazing tool to help people in extremely upsetting and difficult circumstances.”

Cardiology consultant, Dr Nigel Durham, has backed the initiative and hopes to draft 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. While the initiative is still in its infancy we are developing a strategy to make this available for all patients within the hospital, who wish to partake, and we hope to provide the service throughout the Trust in the near future.”

Professor Una Macleod, Dean of Hull York Medical School said:

we understand how important it is for patients to remain connected to their loved ones during this time and are delighted to be able to work in partnership with York Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust to deliver this initiative. I am also extremely proud of how colleagues across the School are responding to the Covid 19 crisis and making a difference to patients and their families during this time.

The hospital senior management have given this project their full backing and have authorised the redeployment of staff to support these virtual visits on the wards. The Hull York Medical School Student Liaison teams based at York and Scarborough hospitals are helping co-ordinate this and are awaiting more iPads donated by Nestle and BT so this service can be made more widely available. The hospital Chaplains are also being provided iPads so staff can arrange virtual visits for patients.

A booking system is being made available so relatives can book a ‘virtual visit’ with their loved ones.  Anyone wishing to ‘book’ a visit, can call the wards directly or ring 07787273823 Or email Rebekah.Boulton@york.nhs.uk and a member of staff will assist with this.