Chesterfield Royal Hospital Foundation Trust’s chief nurse has announced that its wards are to pilot extended opening hours, meaning relatives will be able to visit over a period of 10 hours.
The trust ended open visiting hours over seven years ago in order to help combat high MRSA and Clostridium difficile rates. Visiting was drastically shortened to between 2.30pm-4pm and 6.30pm-8pm.
However, the hospital trust said its infection rates were now at a record low – in 2012-13 it recorded one case of MRSA and 36 cases of C difficile – and it was to trial extending visiting hours on six wards.
The trust said its team of senior matrons felt it was “time to adopt new ideas; to improve the interaction, communication and engagement their matrons can have with relatives on the wards”.
For the next six months, starting on 27 May, three medical wards are open to visitors from 10am to 8pm, while two trauma and orthopaedic wards are open from 2pm to 8pm.
Staff, patients and visitors will be canvassed for their views on the idea.
Although the visiting day is extended, visitors will be reminded that work on the ward needs to continue as usual and, unless they are very ill or the ward team think it’s beneficial, visitors will still be asked to restrict the time they stay – to a couple of hours at maximum.
“This should allow ample time for them to catch-up on their loved one’s care; speak to staff and make sure their relative has everything they need,” the trust said.
Trust chief nurse Barbara Stuttle said: “This is about extending visiting hours to improve how we involve relatives in a loved ones’ care.
“It’s about making ward matrons accessible, so they can answer questions and explain care and treatment plans.
“Lack of communication across the NHS is often cited as a source of frustration and leads to complaints,” she said. “By opening our doors for longer this problem is easier to resolve.”
Ms Stuttle added: “It offers more convenience and should stop wards from being ‘clogged-up’ at certain times of the day. We’re hoping relatives and carers welcome the trial and the opportunity to participate.”
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