Keeping in touch with patients during the pandemic

Amid rising numbers of coronavirus cases in Cornwall, staff at the county’s hospitals want to remind families and friends of the ways they can keep in touch with loved ones in hospital whist visiting restrictions remain in place.

“One of the hardest decisions we have had to take during the pandemic has been the restrictions on visiting needed to reduce the number of people coming into our hospitals and the risk of spreading the virus,” explains Kim O’Keeffe, Interim Joint Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions for the Royal Cornwall Hospitals and Cornwall Partnership Foundation NHS Trusts.

“Although we had been able to relax our covid-19 visiting policy a little in recent months, we are sadly having to return to more limited access.”

The latest visiting arrangements are as follows:

  • End of Life: all patients considered End of Life (COVID-19 positive or COVID-19 negative) one identified visitor per day with prior arrangement (of max two individuals).
  • Paediatrics and Maternity: maintain one parent and one birthing partner and now both parents on neonatal and transitional care can visit at the same time; both parents to be present in the event of critically ill child; partners can attend 12-week scan and 20 week scan and those where bad news may be expected
  • Exceptional circumstances: these will be referred by the ward sister or nurse in charge for senior approval
  • In all circumstances visiting must be by prior arrangement and follow the track and trace principles by obtaining visitor details, instruction on the wearing PPE and completion of a risk assessment that is signed by the visitor

When a visit has been approved, the family member will need to show their authorisation on arrival at the hospital.

Kim added,

“Many patients with smartphones and mobile devices are keeping in touch using our free hospital wifi. However, we know that not all patients have this technology and we are helping them to keep touch with trust devices, telephone and other messaging options.”

At the Royal Cornwall, West Cornwall and St Michael’s hospitals there is also a Staying Connected service where family members and close friends can send a message or photograph through volunteer patient ambassadors. They can email leaving the patient’s name, date of birth and the name of the ward they are on (if known), together with the message they want to send, or they can call 01872 253793 and we will call them back.

For community hospitals family and friends can contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service team by calling 01208 834620 or by emailing

“We will continue to review our visiting policy on a regular basis throughout the pandemic and will do everything we can to help patients and families keep in touch,” said Kim.

Added on February 4, 2021, in News - Patient Experience