Connecting intensive care patients with families during Coronavirus

Steph TewNews, Slider

One of the most difficult parts of the Coronavirus pandemic for patients and their families has been the unfortunate, but necessary, restrictions imposed by NHS organisations on visiting. For many families, the harrowing devastation caused by the disease has only been made more difficult by not being able to be with their loved ones during their time of need. 

To support these families, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has helped relatives and carers to stay connected with their loved ones being cared for in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) by giving them digital access to a patient diary using Patients Know Best (PKB).  

Online patient diary

The online patient diary is used by intensive care staff to update families about how their loved one is doing. These entries, which can include pictures and videos, can be accessed by families from home. This helps provide the much needed and timely information families yearn for, to help them stay connected with their loved ones. It also reduces the pressure on staff who can find it challenging to constantly update families when they are already working in challenging circumstances.  

Clinical Lead for Digital Innovation and Transformation, Morgan Thanigasalam said: “The teamwork has been remarkable. Turning this new concept into reality with the support of PKB in just three weeks has been amazing, many thanks to all that have helped. The willingness of colleagues to bend over backwards, come from other areas to support and consistently go the extra mile has been truly humbling. In what is a worrying and stressful time for relatives and carers, we have already had very positive feedback and thanks.”

Filling the gap in memory

Patient diaries have been used for a long time on the ICU, but until now they haven’t been digitised and accessible online by families. A typical diary will include who has looked after the patient, how they have been, who has called and any events that might be personal to the patient that have happened such as the weather or football team results. The purpose of the diary is to fill in the gaps for the patient whilst sedated as this can be challenging to come to terms with, especially after a prolonged period.

Dr Mohammad Al-Ubaydli, CEO and Founder of Patients Know Best added: “The Trust has been able to implement this extremely quickly by using PKB to upload images to the patient record that can be instantly accessed by their next of kin. We are pleased that PKB is being used to fill the gap in communication at what is a difficult time for families”.

Each day the diary is photographed and attached to the patient record on the Patients Know Best platform. Next of kin are temporarily allowed secure access to this information so they can stay connected and view the record at a time that suits them.

Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, as part of the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICS, has been working with Patients Know Best since March to develop regional, public and patient-held, health and care records in partnership with Connected Nottinghamshire.