Inpatients: Providing care during Covid-19

There is a lot of information on the news daily about Covid-19 and you might be worried how it could affect you, especially if you need to be admitted to hospital. This page is to inform you of the steps we have taken to protect you and your family.

What is Covid-19?

Covid-19 is a type of virus that causes illness. It affects the lungs and airways. People who have it may cough a lot more than usual and/or have a high temperature. They may also have a change or loss of their sense of smell and taste.

It spreads very quickly from person to person so it is important we do everything we can to stop it from spreading.

How can we stop it spreading?

In order to stay safe and reduce the risk of catching or spreading the virus, we must:

  • wash our hands more often, for 20 seconds
  • wear a face mask (if possible) and avoid touching our face
  • use a tissue when we cough or sneeze
  • make space for others and keep our distance from other people.

Admission to hospital

Coming into hospital can be a difficult experience at any time, but in these unprecedented times it is important we help you and your family, by giving you as much information and support as we can.

We also need your help to stop Covid-19 from spreading in hospital by following the Trust’s Covid-19 safety measures. This includes regularly washing your hands with soap and water, social distancing where possible and wearing a face mask indoors. When you are admitted to hospital you will also be asked to have regular Covid-19 tests to help reduce the spread, protecting you, our staff and our visitors.

What does regular Covid-19 testing mean?

Even if you have no symptoms of Covid-19 when you are first admitted (day one) you will be asked to have a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test. You will then be asked to take another on day three followed by another one on day seven. Regular testing then continues every seven days after that.

How is the test completed?

You will be offered a PCR test. This uses a swab to wipe the back of your throat and then your nostrils. This swab will be sent to a laboratory to be tested. You won’t get the results straight away but the ward staff will tell you your result.

Why do I have to have regular Covid-19 tests while I am in hospital?

It is important you are tested because you can have Covid-19 and not feel ill. If you have been in contact with an infected person, it can take up to 14 days for you t develop Covid-19 yourself. This is the incubation period. The virus test can only tell if you have the actual virus, not if you are incubating the disease. So, you may get a negative test one day, but then develop COVID-19 the next day. Therefore, having regular Covid-19 tests whilst in hospital can help keep you and others around you safe by stopping the virus from spreading.

What happens if one of my test results is positive?

If you test positive you will need to isolate for 14 days while in hospital. You may need to move wards but staff will talk you through this if it is required. Staff can advise further if you are well enough to be discharged home through your isolation period. It is important to understand that you will be supported throughout the whole process.

On the ward

While you are on the ward it is important that we protect you and your family as well as our staff. Therefore, staff will wear personal protective equipment depending on what is happening with Covid-19 in the community, and this may include any of the following:

  • plastic apron
  • fluid repellent surgical face mask
  • disposable gloves
  • face visor.
  • Access to essential items

    We realise that lots of people rely on their family or carers for their shopping, including essential items. If you have something that needs to be urgently dropped off which cannot wait until the next visiting time this can be done out of hours, however must be arranged with the Nurse-in-Charge of the ward first. Please remember that wards are able to provide essential toiletries and clothing for patients.

    If this is arranged, the relative should go to the entrance of Accident and Emergency and inform security of their arrival. A member of staff will then bring them to the ward to drop off the items and then will be asked to leave the building.

    What happens if someone on the ward tests positive for Covid-19

    Within all our wards, staff will ensure strict infection control procedures are adhered to at all times, and as an organisation we will regularly review that the measures we have put in place to protect you remain effective.

    There may be times when other people admitted to a ward may test positive for Covid-19. Obviously they will be cared for away from you and others but we understand that this may increase anxiety.

    If someone on the ward does test positive, you and your family will be informed. However, because of confidentiality requirements, there will be limited details we will be able to provide. Staff will discuss with you any concerns you may have and observe everyone on the ward for any potential symptoms. If necessary you can be offered another test.

    We understand that this is a difficult time for everyone and we will endeavour to support you and your family throughout. Please do not hesitate to speak to a member of staff if you have any other queries.

    Visiting and maintaining contact with your family or carers

    In normal circumstances, we welcome visiting as much as possible as we appreciate the positive effect this can have for you and your family and friends.

    Our updated guidance means that one visitor is permitted at a time depending on what ward you are on. For some wards visiting is only allowed in exceptional circumstances such as if a patient has dementia or is receiving end-of-life care. The visitor must book via the online booking system on our website as this allows the Trust to ensure social distancing measures can be maintained.

    Staff will remind any visitors that they will need to have a face covering over their nose and mouth before entering the hospital, and all visitors must comply with existing social distancing and hand hygiene rules.

    Family and friends are still able to contact you through your own personal methods such as your mobile phone. Alternatively, they can make use of the Trust’s ‘Loved Ones’ project, which enables friends and families of inpatients to write to a dedicated e-mail address (thh.lovedonescommunication@nhs.net), with the message which is then printed and hand delivered to the patient. The service is particularly useful for patients who may not be able to stay in touch with loved ones using technology. The inbox is monitored from Monday-Friday and staff at the hospital will endeavour to deliver the messages as soon as possible. The e-mail must include the patient’s full name, date of birth and the ward, if known. All messages will be managed in the strictest confidence.