Keeping in touch with family, friends and loved ones has never been more important during the COVID-19 crisis.

Social distancing and a ‘no visitor’ policy at our community hospitals and inpatient units makes it difficult for people to maintain contact and ease any concerns and worries.

So today, Oxford Health is launching a special way to help families and friends keep up to date with our patients and service users.

We’ve set up a dedicated email address keepintouch@oxfordhealth.nhs.uk

Anyone wishing to use this service can send their message in an email or as a Word attachment and can even include a digital photo.

The Trust will print out each letter in colour, pop it into an envelope and deliver it to the patient and even read it to them if desired.

Donna Mackenzie-Brown, Oxford Health’s Patient Experience & Involvement Team Manager, explained she knows just how much letters can mean to our patients.

Donna said: “One of our patients told me that letters from her friends and family had been the highlight of her week in the early part of her stay.  It was a way to hear her family’s news when they couldn’t be with her and something she could read over again and again if she was feeling homesick.

“They never failed to put a smile on her face, especially when one of her friends sent her little sonnets or poems to make her laugh.”

Donna added: “We want to do all we can to help to help people who are currently staying with us in hospital to keep connected with their friends and family. It’s so thrilling to receive post and know that someone is thinking about you.”

How to take part

Those using the scheme are asked to include their loved one’s full name, date of birth and ward location.

We cannot enter into a discussion about a patient’s health or ongoing treatment via this email address.

Letters received before 1pm from Monday to Friday, will be delivered on the day. Those received after 1pm will be delivered next day. Letters received over the weekend will be delivered on the following Monday.

All letters will be treated as confidential. If a patient is unable to open or read a letter we will ask their permission before opening or reading letters out to them.