Practical help and advice

We know that coming to hospital can also present a range of practical issues as well as medical issues. This section details the support and guidance we offer to our patients and details of how you can access it.

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

The Patient and Family Experience Team provide a Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) offering information, support and advice.

The first port of call for any questions should always be a member of staff on your ward. If you’re unable to get the support or information you need, or if you are uncomfortable or uncertain about speaking to staff, please contact the PALS team. They are here to listen to you and help you and your friends, relatives and carers resolve problems, concerns or difficulties.

The PALS team can also help you find out about services the Trust offers, and point you in the right direction if you need to find current health information or get independent advice or advocacy services.

You can ask a member of staff to contact the PALS team for you or contact them directly

  • Phone: 01872 252793
  • Email: rcht.patientexperience@nhs.net
  • Text: 07800 006479 (this service is only for sending text messages, it doesn’t accept calls)

Accessibility

We are working to make our hospitals accessible for anyone with an impairment and have a range of ways we help make your trip to hospital easier. If would like us to make special arrangements for a particular disability, please contact the department or ward you are coming to and we will do our best to meet your needs.

People with mobility difficulties

All of our main entrances have level access and are wheelchair-friendly. We also have coin-operated wheelchairs available.

Disabled Parking

All of our car parks have disabled spaces available close to our main entrances. Don’t forget to display your blue badge and make a note of any time restrictions or charges.

Hearing Loops

Many of our reception areas are fitted with loop systems to help people with hearing loss.

British Sign Language Interpreters

If you would like a BSL interpreter to help you communicate with hospital staff, please contact the department where your appointment is due as soon as possible. This information should be on your hospital appointment letter. If you require help to do this, please email the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) at rch-tr.PalsService@nhs.net or text them on 07800 006479 (this number only accepts text messages).

Patients with Learning Disabilities

We have a specialist team that offers support for patients with learning disabilities. This helps to prepare them for coming to hospital and provides additional help during their stay. Find out more here.

Adult Changing Place at the Royal Cornwall Hospital

A Changing Place is an accessible bathroom facility with additional equipment to support visitors with severe mobility needs to attend to their personal hygiene needs.

Anyone in the area with additional mobility needs can use the adult changing place. You’ll need a RADAR key to unlock the door, if you don’t have one, you can borrow one from the Trelawny Wing reception desk, or out of hours, from the Medical Admissions Unit (MAU).

The bathroom is located on the first floor of the Trelawny Wing (main entrance level) towards the end of the corridor on the left, and is open 24 hours a day.

The adult changing place has the following equipment:

  • Height-adjustable, adult-sized, wall-mounted changing bench
  • Ceiling track hoist (loop system)
  • The toilet is centrally placed with room either side for the carers
  • The shower is wall mounted and can be used with or without the bench

Bereavement services

For patients who have passed away in hospital, we have a dedicated bereavement service to support you during this difficult time.

How can the bereavement team help?

The team will prepare the necessary paperwork and liaise with other people that may be helping you with arrangements such as funeral directors. They can also arrange for you to see your loved one.

Please visit the Bereavement Services page for more information.

Maintenance at our hospitals

The Estates Department looks after the general maintenance and upkeep of our three hospitals. If you spot a maintenance issue whilst at any of our hospital sites, please let us know as soon as possible.

You can either speak to any member of staff, or report it directly to the Estates Helpdesk:

Phone

01872 253400 between 8am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.

In Person

The Estates Helpdesk is located opposite the post room in the link corridor between Trelawny Wing and the Tower Block at the Royal Cornwall Hospital. It’s open 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

Out of Hours

Please call the Royal Cornwall Hospital switchboard on 01872 250000.

Nutrition

We are dedicated to providing high quality, tasty, balanced and nutritious food for all of our patients. To meet this standard, we have a dedicated food production unit, run by Cornwall Food, with a purpose built facility in Redruth.

The team have a strong focus on using fresh quality produce from sustainable sources. At present 85% of the produce in all our meals is locally sourced. All food is “safe”, and either meets or exceeds CQC and HACCP standards.

Meals are produced on site by dedicated chefs using traditional cooking techniques. Main meals are then frozen on site ready to be reheated at the hospitals using an innovative mobile oven developed specifically for this purpose by the Cornwall Food team. This means that all of the goodness and nutrients are preserved, and that the meals are served at the correct temperature for every single patient. We can cater for a range of special diets so please just let the nurses know if you have any special food or drink requirements.

You can find out more information about Cornwall Food by visiting their website.

Patient Consent

You are in control of your treatment and care. We follow a process of patient consent and we must record that an individual has been provided with sufficient information to make an informed choice to go ahead with a procedure or test.

While there may be ethical dilemmas relating to consent in certain circumstances, much of the time clear principles exist to guide the process.

We will document information given to patients, both written and verbal.

Anyone taking consent for a particular procedure must either be;

  • The person carrying out the procedure or,
  • A person capable of carrying out the procedure independently or
  • A person who has been trained in taking consent for that procedure.

Your clinician may talk to you about recording your consent or may give you a ‘Procedure Specific Consent Form’ which will provide written information about the procedure and a form for you to sign that you consent for the treatment to go ahead.

If there are concerns about an individual’s mental capacity to consent to treatment then this will be discussed and there is a legal process to follow.

We are committed to the principle of ‘no decision about me without me’ and please feel free to ask any questions at any time about your consent to treatment and care.

Patient Information Leaflets

We produce a range of patient information leaflets. Your doctor or nurse may give you any that are relevant.

If you need any booklet or information leaflet in large print, braille, audio format or in another language, please ask your nurse or contact PALS on 01872 253545.

Spiritual, religious and cultural needs

Spiritual care is usually given on a one-to-one basis, is completely person-centred, and makes no assumptions about personal conviction or life orientation. Religious care is given in the context of the shared religious beliefs, values, liturgies and lifestyle of a faith community or belief group.

Spiritual care is often used as the overall term and is relevant for all. For some, their spiritual needs are met by religious care, the visits, prayers, worship, rites and sacraments often provided by a faith leader, or representative of the faith community or belief group. Spiritual care can be provided by all healthcare staff, by carers, families and other patients. When a person is treated with respect, when they are listened to in a meaningful way, when they are seen and treated as a whole person within the context of their life, values and beliefs, then they are receiving spiritual care.

Hospital Chaplains

Chaplains are the specialist spiritual care providers. Our Spiritual & Pastoral Care Team visit wards regularly and Chaplains are also available on call, and can be reached on 01872 252883 or through the switchboard on 01872 250000 out of hours.

The Chaplains work closely with all faith communities, so if you would like us to contact your own priest, minister or faith community leader, we can do that for you.

Hospital Chapels

There are hospital chapels at each of our hospitals, they are open to all and staff or chaplaincy team can let you know exactly how to find them. We also have further prayer and quiet rooms available at Royal Cornwall Hospital.

A copy of the New Testament and Psalms is provided by the Gideons in bedside lockers. The chaplaincy office also keeps some texts for the major world faiths and will happily lend them on request.

Spiritual or religious needs that affect your care

Please let us know if there’s anything you feel we should know when providing your care (whether it’s to do with prayer, diet, use of blood products, washing / ablution, etc.)

If you require a special diet during your stay in hospital, please tell us as soon as possible so we can make sure we have the correct food available.

Transport and transport costs

Help with transport to and from your hospital appointment

TAP (Transport Access Patients) coordinates a fleet of car drivers across Cornwall who can organise a lift for you. They can arrange for a car or an accessible mini-bus if you have a wheelchair or walking frame. There is a charge for this service (payable per mile) and you can travel alone or with friends or family. You can contact TAP on 01872 223388.

Volunteer Cornwall also provide a similar service, again, charged by the mile. Contact them on 01872 265300.

There are also a range of community transport schemes running throughout the county. Please visit the Cornwall Council Community Transport Schemes page for more information.

Help with transport and parking costs

If you receive Income Support or other benefits, you might be able to reclaim your travel and parking expenses under the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme. More information about the scheme and details of how to claim are available on NHS Choices.

To reclaim your expenses you’ll need to take your travel receipts, appointment letter or card, and proof that you are receiving one of the qualifying benefits to the General Office. Details of the general offices are here:

Non-emergency Patient Transport Services

The Patient Transport Service (PTS) provide free transport to and from hospital for people who need the support of clinically trained staff or specialist equipment during or after their journey.

Your GP or the healthcare professional who referred you to hospital will discuss with you whether you have a medical need for transport, and explain what happens if you do.

Information for patients from the Isles of Scilly

The Patient Transport Service at the Royal Cornwall Hospital will be able to help you with any transport questions you have about getting to or from the Isles of Scilly. They are open from 8am until 8pm, Monday to Friday, and from 10.30am to 5pm at the weekends, on 01872 252211.

For both planned and emergency stays, the Trust will cover the cost of your flights to and from the mainland. There is a £5 admin fee for planned stays, that you will need to pay before you travel to hospital. You will not need to pay this if you come in as an emergency admission.

You’ll also need to arrange transport between the hospital and the airport.

If you came in as an emergency don’t worry, the Patient Transport Service can help you plan your journey home and if you’re being transferred to another hospital, all the arrangements will be made for you.

If you need to alter your return flight, or if your flight is delayed or cancelled, contact the Patient Transport Service for advice, quoting the booking reference on your ticket. They can also book your return flight if you haven’t done so yet.

If you can’t travel home the same day you leave hospital, you might be able to stay in alternative accommodation. Speak to the team at the Patient Transport Service or ask the staff on your ward to get in touch on your behalf.

Before you go home don’t forget to ask your ward team…

  • Have they made an assessment that you’re medically fit to travel to the airport and then by air?
  • Will you be physically able to board the aircraft?
  • If you live on an off­ island, will you be able to manage the boat trip from St Mary’s?
  • Have they assessed whether you’ll need an escort and, if you do, made the necessary arrangements?

Useful phone numbers

  • Patient Transport Service at Royal Cornwall Hospital: 01872 252211
  • Transport Access Patients: 01872 223388
  • National Rail Enquiries: 0845 748 3950
  • First Bus: 0845 600 1420
  • Isles of Scilly Travel: 0845 710 5555