Communicating between families or friends and patients (updated 20 April 2022)

Communicating between families or friends and patients

We recognise the importance of communication and visiting between patients, friends and families for the well-being of all.

There is still a need for some visiting restrictions due to the continued high levels of Covid-19 in the general population.  However, the visiting options available to patients’ family and friends are much less restrictive than they were and details can be found here.

If a patient’s family and friends are unable to visit them in hospital and/or the patient does not have a device to enable them 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.  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.

We would ask that the person nominated as the Key Contact liaise with the rest of the patient’s family and friends.

Our ward teams are extremely busy, and will endeavour to answer telephone calls as soon as possible. To help us, please only contact the ward team if you are a patient's named key contact. Please liaise with the person nominated as the key contact for more information and updates. 

Clinical Consultations with patient and family/friends/carers

Where possible, we will conduct clinical consultations in person.  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 place.  Should a virtual consultation be necessary the clinical team will advise you whether the consultation will take place 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 consultation so you don’t forget any important issues – see video for tips on preparing for a video consultation. 

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 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.