Connecting patients with loved ones in troubled times

4 May 2020

Kind-hearted local residents have rallied round to ensure hospital patients can stay connected with their families – despite not being able to visit due to coronavirus restrictions.

Locals were so moved after hearing how Royal Free London patients were often unable to talk with their loved ones that they raised thousands of pounds to ensure they were just the tap of a button away.

Despite being in lockdown members of the community have successfully raised money and sourced mobile tablets for Barnet Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital, which has been treating hundreds of patients with the virus. 

Currently families are only able to visit their relatives in exceptional circumstances. This can mean that very unwell patients, including patients receiving end of life care, may be unable to easily chat with their loved ones. (see link below for further information).

Sophie Cakebread, lead nurse specialist for palliative care for Barnet Hospital, said: “Our team recognised there was a real issue around being able to connect our patients with their families at this time. For patients who are getting better we know it’s a massive emotional boost if they are able to ‘see’ and speak to their families. For those patients who are approaching the end of their lives we know that being able to see and speak to their loved ones means everything to them and their families. I’m so glad we’ve been able to reach out to the community and get their help with this. It will make a huge difference and means so much to all of us.

“We are also grateful for the donations of puzzle books and Sudoku we are receiving which are helping our patients who are starting to feel better pass the time.”

Satish Sachdev and his wife Daksha, from Woodside Park, Barnet, have raised an incredible £18,000 and bought 80 tablets for the trust. They plan to use any additional funds to donate extra tablets to other hospitals.

Satish said: “I contacted the Royal Free Charity and asked what I could do to help.  I was told that one of the things hospital staff were asking for was tablets so patients can see and talk to their loved ones through video calls.  Being isolated from friends and family must be extremely distressing for patients and that is why we felt that this was such a valuable cause to support. We talked to our immediate family and friends about our desire to help the Royal Free Charity and we were blown away by their generosity and the number of pledges we received. We would like to say a big thank you to everyone that donated and to those that put an enormous amount of time and effort in helping us to source the tablets, which in itself proved to be quite challenging.”

Daksha added: “Both of our sons were born at the Royal Free Hospital and we feel a great affinity for the Royal Free London. This cause really matters to us. One of our sons and his wife are both doctors and we have nothing but admiration for the NHS. We would encourage everyone to support your local hospitals in any way that you can.”

Nisha Mistry, from St Albans, said: “My family live on a very long road with a very active WhatsApp group. We created a pool and started collecting donations as one of our neighbour’s works for the Royal Free London and we wanted to show our support. We were absolutely amazed by the response. In the end, 60 families from our road made a donation and we raised £1,690.”

“It’s just heart-breaking to think of people in hospital on their own, unable to speak to their loved ones. We just wanted to find a way to help these patients connect to their loved ones and give something back to the community – it’s lovely to know that our donations will make a difference.”

If you are a business or local community group and want to help the Royal Free Hospital or Barnet Hospital then please e-mail the charity at Deliveries need to be co-ordinated and can not be accepted otherwise.

Alternatively if you would like to help by making a donation to help support our Royal Free London staff then go to to find out more.

All use of mobile devices by patients in clinical areas is covered by information governance guidance and there is an additional trust wide process in place for donated items.

For further information about visiting restrictions go here.