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An innovative way to overcome the tricky issue of visiting hours

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The topic of when and for how long relatives and friends can visit on hospital wards has long been a much discussed topic. Open visiting versus fixed-hours visiting? Should it be the same for every ward and department? Can children visit? How many visitors should be allowed at one time?

The discussion continues around and around because at the root of it all is the problem that not one size fits all. No one blanket policy will suit every patient and every ward.

“No one blanket policy will suit every patient and every ward”

I was really heartened to see that one trust has developed an innovative approach to the question of hospital visiting. The new system focuses on the individual needs of patients and assesses whether they would benefit from having the freedom to be visited by family and carers 24 hours a day.

Imperial College Healthcare Trust has developed “passports”, which are issued to family and carers of vulnerable patients or people with dementia across the five hospitals within the trust. The card allows them to visit whenever they want.

The cards were developed by nurses, which is no surprise as they are the ones who spend their time debating the visiting issue with patients and their loved ones.

“Having a card means families can support their loved ones who are in hospital”

Having a card means families can support their loved ones who are in hospital, which can be a difficult and destabilising experience. Doubtless this measure will help the wellbeing and recovery of these vulnerable groups.

Where possible acknowledging that individual needs are met is the root to the best quality healthcare and the optimum patient experience.

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