Many of the elderly patients that come into hospital via an ambulance do not have anything with them – no clothes or any way of contacting their relatives, according to Hywel Dda University Health Board.
With patients not able to have visitors due to Covid19 restrictions, Hywel Dda University Health Board have created a team of Family Liaison Officers (FLO) to be that link between the patient and their family and friends.
Owain Davies a Family Liaison Officer in Glangwilli General Hospital said, “Out of the 30 patients I liaised with when I first started, 15 of them didn’t have any clothes with them or a way of contacting their relatives, they were having to wear a hospital gown. They have come in via an ambulance and only have the clothes they are wearing and that could be their pyjamas. Others have no way of contacting their loved ones with no phone or devices with them.
Although the FLO team are there to help those patients that do come in with nothing, Hywel Dda University Health Board are keen for us to think about how we can ‘help us to help you’ as they enter the busiest time of year for hospital admissions. If you, or a relative/loved one, are admitted into hospital as an emergency take a moment to consider what the patient needs to bring in with them. A small bag is all that is needed which has in it - toiletries, a small towel, a change of clothes, nightwear, slippers or shoes, maybe a good book to pass the time and their phone or device to keep in touch.
Sister Nia Jones and Ocupational Therapist, Hannah Moses both agree that the introduction of the FLO team has meant they have more time to spend with the patients to do more of the things they need to do to get them better. Sister Nia Jones added, “It’s really helped us during the difficult, busy times, recently.”
The Family Liaison Officers are the link between the patient and their families during the pandemic. They are able to organise clothes aswell as keeping in touch using devices and phones. Owain continued, “Having your own belongings and wearing your own clothes can make a huge difference to the patients and being able to keep in touch with their family and friends helps them down the road to recovery quicker.”
Dennis Reed, a patient at Glangwilli General Hospital said, “I have been in hospital for over two months and I’m exceedingly grateful for the help Owain and his colleagues have given me. It is such a wonderful service and of tremendous benefit. I have been able to keep in touch with my children and friends using the mobile phone and skype provided by the FLO team. I had never used a mobile phone before being admitted into hospital.”
Mandy Rayani, Executive Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience, added: “Our Family Liaison Officers have only been with us since the beginning of the year but already in such a short space of time they have proven to be a tremendous asset for our most elderly and vulnerable patients in particular. They have been one of the bright lights in what has been an otherwise dark year for health and care services up and down the country. If those coming into hospital could also help us to help them by thinking about what they need to bring with them that would appreciated.”
It isn’t just the clothes that patients bring in with them during an emergency that can ‘help us to help you’ during the pandemic. During the winter months there is an increased number of calls to the ambulance service of slips and trips caused by us wearing inappropriate footwear. When services are stretched in the way they are at present we are all being urged to think about elderly relatives in particular and to ensure we are wearing proper footwear, with grips, and to take advantage of free eye tests to prevent trips and falls.
An insight in to the work of the new FLO team which has been successfully introduced to Hywel Dda University Health Board is available to watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVBrYtV871E