Restrictions on visiting due to coronavirus (COVID-19)
Visitors are now allowed in our hospitals on the following basis:
- Maternity: One birth partner for a woman in labour
- Paediatrics: One parent/carer for a child (no siblings allowed)
- Neonatal Units: One parent/carer for a baby
- Inpatient wards: One visitor per day, by prior arrangement (see below)
- End-of-life patients: To balance compassion with safe care, the number of visitors permitted at this time will be at the ward manager’s discretion
Carers with a carer’s passport or a carer’s card can continue to visit as usual.
Visiting patients on our wards
Keeping patients and our staff safe is our top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That is why we continue to recommend that you use digital services such as Facetime, Skype, Zoom and WhatsApp to stay in touch with loved ones during their hospital stay, to minimise the risk of spreading or contracting the virus.
We have iPads available on wards for use by patients who do not have a smartphone or other mobile device, and you can also use our new personal messaging service to let friends and loved ones know they are in your thoughts.
However, you are now allowed to see patients on wards as well as visit them virtually, subject to a number of safety measures now in place.
The current rules for visiting are:
- One visitor can come in for a maximum of one hour each day, between 2 and 8pm
- Visits must be pre-booked by phoning the ward, preferably at least a day in advance, so we can make sure we don’t have too many people in at one time
- You must wear a face covering (or mask) that goes over your mouth and nose all the time you are inside the hospital – please speak to the ward manager when booking if you have a medical condition or learning disability that would make wearing one difficult or distressing
- You must enter and leave through the main hospital reception only
- You must clean your hands with the alcohol gel provided when entering and leaving the hospital and the ward
- You should bring as few bags, coats and other loose belongings with you as possible – ideally just a mobile phone and keys placed in a plastic bag you can throw away as you leave
- You must stay at least two metres away from other people at all times
- If you have been wearing a disposable face mask, you must put it in the bin provided as you leave the hospital
- You should wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as soon as you get home
- Visiting will not be allowed to some areas where patients with COVID-19 are being cared for
Who can and can’t visit:
- You should not come into hospital if you have COVID-19 symptoms or any health concerns
- If you are in an at-risk group (anyone over 70, who has an underlying health condition, is pregnant or shielding) you are advised not to visit and do so at your own risk
- Children under 16 are not allowed to visit, except in exceptional circumstances, which you should discuss with the nurse in charge
- If you need the help of a carer to visit, please discuss this when you call to book
- You may be asked to leave the ward during your visit. This may because your relative or another patient requires treatment or if an emergency occurs
To balance compassion with safe care, the number of visitors permitted for end-of-life patients will be at the ward manager’s discretion. Carers with a carer’s passport or a carer’s card can continue to visit as usual. Please speak to the ward manager if there are any other circumstances in which more than one person may need to be present (e.g. support for vulnerable people).
Please also be aware that it may not be possible to visit if we have to close part or all of the ward due to a patient being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Face masks and other personal protective equipment
Wearing a face mask or covering can make you feel very hot so we advise that you are not over-dressed during your visit and have had plenty to drink before you come in.
You will need to keep your mask/covering on for the whole of your visit so you will not be able to have a drink while you are in the hospital.
We know that for a few people wearing a face covering might be difficult – if, for example, you have breathing problems, learning difficulties or a condition that would make wearing one distressing. If there is a reason that you feel unable to wear a face covering, please speak to the ward manager about it when you book your visit.
If you are a deaf or hearing impaired, staff will have a range of ways in which they they can continue to communicate effectively with you. This might include visual aids such as writing things down, speech to text apps and sign language.
A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment (PPE). These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace.
Further guidance on wearing face coverings can be found on the gov.uk website.
You may need to wear additional PPE in some areas of the hospital. Staff will help you put on and take off this equipment safely.
If you are not wearing the required PPE you will be asked to leave for your own safety and that of patients, other visitors and staff.
Staying in touch
We know this is a worrying time for relatives of patients so we are doing everything we can to help you stay connected with the people who matter to you most.
New personal messaging service
Our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) is now running a new personal messaging service that allows people to stay in touch with patients by telephone or email.
You can email a message to a loved one at wshnt.MessagesToLovedOnes@nhs.net or leave one using the dedicated numbers for St Richard’s and Worthing Hospitals:
- St Richard’s: 01243 831822
- Worthing: 01903 285032
The PALS team will print out all messages (including any photographs emailed), laminate them and then pass them on to the wards to be shared with patients.
Please include in your message the name of the patient it is for, the name of the ward on which they are being cared for, and your own name and contact details.
iPads and smartphones
We have also been able to obtain iPads and smartphones to be used by patients for making voice and video calls to their loved ones.
These are available on wards in wipe-clean protective cases.