​​​​​​​Oxford Health is deploying a new solution to help end patient isolation on wards created by the Coronavirus pandemic.

With a strict no visitor policy in place, many of our inpatients in community and mental health settings are not getting the social contact they would normally have from family, friends and loved ones.

Despite best efforts by staff, a busy Creating with Care programme and the Patient Experience team’s Letters to a Loved One project, nothing can beat seeing a familiar friendly face.

Thanks to the Trust’s IM&T team the solution has been found in Virtual Visits, a video messaging project rapidly developed as part of our COVID-19 response.

Launched in community wards initially, each patient bed is assigned a tablet or iPad which has been specially configured, is secure and easy to use.  By having a device allocated to a patient bed, it will allow patients to have exclusive access at a time of their choosing and reduce the risks of infection that are always present when equipment is shared.

It allows patients to send a fixed email form that notifies the recipient that a friend or family member is a current patient and would like to get in touch.

Mark Walker, head of IT, explained: “It means our patients can have video messaging capability with the people they care about. Having these tablets also means they can play games, access education or simply read a book. We make sure there are easy to read instructions on how to use.

“Initial feedback has been very positive, and we are hoping to roll out this solution to more wards in the weeks and months ahead. It’s a real game changer for patients and our teams.”