A daughter whose father died from Covid-19 is helping keep hospital patients in touch with their families remotely with digital help.
Aimee Hilton raised funds to buy the digital tablets which she gave to Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust as a way of patients reaching their loved ones and health professionals amid Covid restrictions on visitors.
The iPads include Attend Anywhere software, enabling access to video consultations with health professionals instead of face-to-face meetings which have been restricted due to infection control measures.
Another initiative is called #SendingLove for relatives and friends of patients to send in a hand-delivered message and photograph to let them know that they are being thought of, especially for those who are end-of-life or undergoing longer-term treatment.
Aimee, a nursing lecturer, is a former healthcare assistant in Torbay Hospital’s cardiac ward and emergency department.
She was moved to raise funds for the iPads for several hospitals after keeping in contact with her father James, a patient in a hospital elsewhere, by video for six hours until the battery went flat.
She said: “Being able to Skype was an incredibly emotional process and meant I could be with him. I couldn’t hold his hand or brush his hair but he was talking to me and able to see his grandchildren play.
“I could be there via a video screen and that was incredibly special. We sat with him and played music and reassured him when he opened his eyes.”
Lisa Houlihan, interim associate director nursing (urgent care) with the trust, said: “These iPads offer a ‘communication lifeline’ for many patients who are required to be in isolation, and therefore miss out on vital interpersonal contact with friends and family.
“While a phone call is always possible, they allow patients to not only speak directly with their loved ones but be able to see them, and makes the interaction so much more meaningful for the patients and the loved one who would dearly love to visit them.
“This visual reassurance alongside the verbal one has been so valuable to many patients who miss their families and whose family can’t be with them for a multitude of reasons.
“This is a truly kind and valuable donation which we know our patients and their loved ones will benefit from greatly. Thank you from all the team here at Torbay Hospital.”
Aimee is now raising money to buy iPads for other hospitals which she hopes to have engraved with his name before donating. Almost £8,000 has been donated so far and anyone who wishes to support her cause can visit JustGiving.