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18 Sep 2020 Care

“Video calls made a difference during this difficult time”

While videos calls and virtual conversations are the everyday normal for many, for some communicating through a screen is a completely new experience and can feel somewhat strange. For Ronald Hayward and his family, it became a way to stay in touch during the pandemic.

While videos calls and virtual conversations are the everyday normal for many, for some communicating through a screen is a completely new experience and can feel somewhat strange. For Ronald Hayward and his family, it became a way to stay in touch during the pandemic.

Ronald Hayward came to the In-Patient Unit at Kirkwood on the 20th March, just as lockdown was imposed across the nation. Admitted to the Unit to support his journey and provide end of life care, Kirkwood’s nursing team soon realised that Ronald would be isolated from his family, and his daughter Susan, if they could not find a solution that would keep them all connected during this incredibly difficult time.

Ronald’s daughter, Susan Nutt, who lives in Devon, reflects on how technology made a difference during this period. “When dad was admitted to the In-Patient Unit it came as such a blow for the entire family. We knew he was going to the best place, but with the imposed restrictions visiting him was going to be impossible. Little did we know, Kirkwood had a plan to help keep us all connected.”

Janet Hawksworth, a social worker at Kirkwood, devised a solution that would ensure relatives could be united with their loved ones through the use of video calls. While patients and families couldn’t be physically together, Janet made it a priority to organise virtual visits most days, giving families much needed quality time to connect. 

Janet explains: “Susan and her family had never visited Kirkwood before and were unable to visit Ronald shortly after his was admitted due to the Government announcement. It must have been heart breaking for the family not to meet the nurses caring for Ronald and to not personally experience the supportive environment in which Ronald was to spend his last few weeks. Not only did the video calls keep them connected as a family, it gave Susan an opportunity to see the Unit through virtual eyes and even take in the view from Ronald’s bed.”

Susan continues: “Many people are nervous at the thought of video calls, especially in emotional situations such as this. When Janet first suggested the video calls I was surprised, but what I didn’t appreciate was how important these virtual visits were going to be over the coming weeks.

“Dad was cared for by Kirkwood for 8 weeks before he died. He had no idea about technology, he was 84 after all, but we were thrilled with how well he responded to the video calls. The first time was a quick 10-minute conversation. We were over the moon to see him and he was absolutely delighted when he could see us all smiling back at him. He had never seen anything like it before.

“We held these visits once a week depending on how he felt, with my daughter and granddaughter joining the calls too. Sometimes dad didn’t say anything as he felt too weak, but you could see it cheered him up. To be able to look into his eyes and still see that sparkle was just what we needed as a family. Dad was always such a sociable person, having run a pub for many years of his life. We could still see the joy and his vivacious personality come through during his stay at Kirkwood.

“My daughter and granddaughter took some persuasion to join the calls as they were nervous about how it would work and topics of conversation, but the words soon came to them and they loved the whole experience. It was such a comfort to see dad virtually, and I would recommend it to anyone. Don’t be concerned about what to say, or awkward silences, just enjoy those precious moments of being able to see your loved ones.”

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