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Update on easing of hospital visiting restrictions

Glangwili Hospital sign

Family, friends and well-wishers can attend our hospitals to visit patients on a limited basis with prior agreement with hospital staff in line with Welsh Government guidance.

While the prevalence of Covid-19 remains very low among our hospital inpatients, the virus has not gone away altogether, and like some other areas across Wales and indeed the UK we are dealing with cases of the Delta variant in our communities.

The health board has been gradually relaxing hospital visiting restrictions, however all visits must be pre-arranged to enable us to maintain social distancing in our wards and across our sites.

This means that a pre-booked visit by no more than two members of the same household can be supported, provided your visit has a clear purpose and is in the best interest of the patient.

A visit can be arranged following discussion between the patient and the Ward Sister or Charge Nurse, and visiting will be in line with the following Welsh Government Guidance:

  • ‘Visiting with a Purpose’:
  • End of life – last days of life
  • Carer –you are the carer or the nominated representative
  • Learning disabilities (LD) –a patient with learning disabilities may need you as their carer/ next of kin to share information about their individual needs and virtual visiting may not be appropriate.
  • Other – for example where it is felt a visit from you may help the patient with rehabilitation, understanding of care/ condition, help with dietary concerns. The ward sister may agree visiting outside of this guidance in certain circumstances.

Please note that visitors who do not meet this criteria will be asked to use a virtual visiting option instead which is available within the hospital, such as using a tablet or mobile phone. Family Liaison Officers will be available on wards to support access to virtual visiting.

We would also kindly ask all visitors to adhere to the following restrictions:

  • All visiting or accompanying patients to appointments MUST be pre-arranged in advance with the relevant Ward Sister or Charge Nurse.
  • A staff member will contact the allocated visitor and agree a time slot for the visitor to attend the ward.  There will be one daily visitor during the specified time slot to ensure social distancing rules are adhered to and to maintain the safety of patients and staff.
  • The visitor will be allowed to stay with the patient for an agreed period of time to ensure that all patients who wish to receive a visit are given the opportunity. This will be based on the individual circumstances and ward environment to ensure that all necessary infection prevention measures are in place. Due to varying activities in the ward environments, time slots may vary. Should there be a need for alternative visiting arrangements, this must be discussed with the Ward Sister or Charge Nurse.
  • Visitors must wear appropriate PPE (surgical face coverings). Children are not encouraged to visit and should only do so in extenuating circumstances.
  • The allocated visitor must remain as the only visitor during the admission period. Visitors will be asked to stay within the bed area of the patient throughout the duration of the stay. Visitors’ toilet facilities are available and staff can direct people as necessary.
  • Hospital restaurants remain closed to visitors however, in exceptional circumstances arrangements can be made through the Ward Sister or Charge Nurse for take away meals to be purchased.
  • Essential support assistants (such as interpreters or essential carers) are not classed as visitors. Please discuss this with your health professional.

Mandy Rayani, Executive Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience, said: “On behalf of the health board I want to reiterate our deepest thanks and gratitude to our communities, our patients and their families for your understanding and adherence to the very strict hospital visiting rules that we have had to impose throughout this pandemic.  Your diligence and awareness of the need to keep loved ones safe in hospital has been key in our efforts to fight the virus.

“We know that visitors are essential to the wellbeing of our patients, and wherever we can, we will support you to be with your loved one.  We are committed to avoiding the spread of the virus within our hospitals and keeping our patients, family, carers and staff as safe as possible.

“This does mean that for the time being, we need to ensure that we continue to exercise caution, and I want to stress that this is not a full return to normality.  We understand that some visitors may feel disappointed if you aren’t able to attend in person, but I want to assure you that the measures we are putting in place are safe, proportionate and responsible and we look forward to gradually easing further restrictions as circumstances allow.”

Patients, where able, may use their own phones to communicate with family and friends. Those that need assistance can be supported to communicate via Facetime or other supported social platforms.

The health board does not require visitors to be tested for COVID-19 prior to an arranged hospital visit and cannot facilitate testing of visitors on-site. However, visitors may wish to undertake a lateral flow test at home before they visit loved ones and testing kits can be accessed via the UK portal and posted to your home address or can be picked up from our ‘test collect’ sites (between 9.30am and 12.30pm, with the exception of Carmarthen Showground which is between 8.00am and 1.00pm).

Please do not visit any of our hospital sites if you have been asked to isolate by the contact tracing team or if you have any of the three main symptoms of COVID-19 – a new continuous cough, temperature or loss or change of taste or smell. If you experience any of these symptoms please book a PCR COVID-19 test via the UK portal or by ringing 119. You should also book a test if you have mild cold or flu-like symptoms, including runny or blocked nose, sore throat, muscle ache or pain, excessive tiredness; persistent headache, persistent sneezing and/or hoarseness, shortness of breath or wheezing.

When booking your PCR test, you will also be asked about your symptoms: if you have mild cold or flu-like symptoms, rather than the classic three symptoms, choose ‘None of these symptoms’ and then choose one of the following options to enable you to complete the booking:

  • My local council or health protection team has asked me to get a test, even though I do not have symptoms or
  • A GP or other healthcare professional has asked me to get a test.