Communication between patients and family and friends

We recognise that the visiting restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the ability for some patients to communicate with  their family and friends.  We are asking patients who they would like as their ‘Key Contact’ so that staff can provide regular updates on their progress. We would ask that the person nominated as the Key Contact liaise with the rest of the patient’s family and friends.

If the patient cannot communicate, we will review the information recorded in the patient’s notes and ask the family/friends/carers to nominate the Key Contact.

Best wishes service - postcards delivered to patients on wards

The Royal Free Charity is kindly hosting a ‘best wishes' card service which allows you to send a card to patients who are being treated at Barnet Hospital, Chase Farm Hospital or the Royal Free Hospital.

Hosted on the charity’s website, the cards can be personalised and will be delivered to the named patient.  The cards available have been selected as the winners from a local school’s art competition, and are available here:

You are able to send letters and postcards to patients yourself.  As long as the patient’s name, ward and bed number are included on the envelope, ward staff will collect and deliver them.

Virtual consultation with patient and family/friends/carers

The visit will be instigated by the medical, nursing or therapy teams, in response to the patient’s clinical situation / discharge plan, or because the Key Contact has specific questions to be discussed with the hospital teams in the presence of the patient.  This consultation will need to be arranged in advance and you will be given instructions on date, time and mode e.g. via Zoom, FaceTime or via the hospital remote consultation app ‘Attend Anywhere’.

It is a good idea to write down any questions or concerns that you have before the virtual consultation so you don’t forget any important issues.

Please also note that you are within your rights to record the video call, with staff and patient consent, and with the understanding that the images will not be made public. If the patient is unconscious and cannot give consent, then recording permission is at the discretion of staff.

Interpreting during a virtual consultation is available

We recognise that patients, relatives and carers with a day-to-day understanding and use of English may have difficulty with complex medical language and giving informed consent for procedures.

The trust offers an interpreting service, provided by an external company, who use carefully screened and qualified interpreters, offering a strictly confidential service in a wide range of languages. 

We have access to a telephone interpreting service 24/7.  We can facilitate 1-way interpreting telephone calls, where you are on-site with the patient and staff.  We can also facilitate 3-way interpreting telephone and video calls, where you are at home and need to be connected to staff and the patient with an interpreter on the line. 

Tips for a successful interpreting session

Think of the interpreter as a human language link, helping communication between languages and cultures.  Make sure you direct your questions to the staff, as opposed to the interpreter.

Let the interpreter know the information that you want to find out.

Go through your questions as methodically as possible.

Understand that there may be some delay before the interpreter can get the information you need from the staff.

Be aware that different languages often require a different number of words.