"Virtual visiting’ supports families to keep in touch with loved ones

Patients at KGH and NGH are using computer tablets to stay in touch with relatives during the pandemic because of ongoing visiting restrictions in place to keep hospitals safe.
Innovative ‘virtual visiting’ live links at Kettering and Northampton General Hospital are supporting hundreds of local families who can’t visit their loved ones in hospital.
And, during the current lockdown, and as Covid-19 cases continue to rise in Northamptonshire, the two hospitals are reminding local people about the different ways we can help people to stay in touch.
For the last seven months both hospitals have maintained strict no visiting arrangements across their wards with only a few carefully planned exceptions.
This is to make them as safe as they can be by reducing the numbers of people on the two sites to reduce the risk of Covid-19 being brought into hospital.
Both hospitals have responded to the ‘no visitors’ challenge by developing innovative ways to keep families in touch with one another safely during the pandemic.
Kettering General Hospital has the following initiatives:
  • KGH NHS Virtual Visiting - a purpose-built application for KGH which enables 25 wards and departments (including A&E) to book calls between patients and their loved ones using 50 computer tablets. So far more than 900 patients and their families have benefitted from the virtual visits for an average call length of 50 minutes. The Trust is continuing to develop this programme with the aim of giving access to all patients who want to take part. The roll-out is underway but not yet complete.
  • KGH Care Courier Service – A patient property drop off service so a relative or friend can bring essential items for their loved ones who are staying in hospital. More details on our website
  • KGH "Thinking of you service". A dedicated email address where loved ones can email a message, picture, or letter and it will be delivered to the patient. The address is
At Northampton General Hospital work has included:
  • Patient video calls- The volunteer team offer video calls Monday-Friday from 09.30-15.00. This involves a pre-booked call with loved ones to give family and friends a chance to connect and see loved ones. So far over 2,000 patients and their loved ones have benefitted from the calls.
    To book a call please phone 01604 544136
  • End of life care visiting passes – The specialist palliative care team have introduced visiting cards for those with loved ones or relatives. These cards will allow access to visit loved ones without the need to explain the situation to security. Wards will be allocated these cards to give out at their discretion.
  • Letters to loved ones- Patient relatives can email a letter and photos to their relative who is in hospital. This can be sent to: Please include on the email the patients full name and which ward they are on.
  • Letter dictation service- Relatives who don’t have access to email can call or text 07514978390 Monday-Friday 09.30-14.30. Our volunteer team will be on hand to take dictation of the message and deliver the letter to the patient on the same day.
  • Pictures for patients- Are you a buddy artist or have a youngster who wants to demonstrate their talents? We are asking for you to send us your pictures to boost the morale of patients by giving them some artwork for their hospital bed space. You can send your pictures by email to:
  • Patient property drop off: The volunteer run service is available Monday-Friday 09.30-15.30 at the South Entrance information desk. More information is available here:
Both hospitals can in exceptional circumstances, such as end of life care, arrange safe visiting. This should be done through the senior members of staff in the patient’s ward.
Kettering General Hospital’s Director of Nursing and Quality, Leanne Hackshall, said:
“The people who have using the virtual visiting services across both hospitals have told us how much they value not only speaking to their relative in hospital but also seeing them.
“The great thing about virtual visiting is that it is very safe – all of our computer tablets are cleaned between each use – and it enables relatives to speak to their loved one, and staff members, wherever they are in the country – or in some case even overseas.”
Feedback from loved ones about the video calls and letters service has been overwhelmingly positive:
  • “We can’t thank you all enough for the wonderful help and support you give us. You have all been there to make a connection with him and we so appreciate your patients, cheerfulness, humour and the little touches you do bring”.
  • I love receiving the letters. The volunteers are so kind as I can't see much so they read them out to me. I love the fact it's printed, I don't have access to much technology really so I can take it home and keep it to put on my fridge and look at it on a lonely day”.
  • “A big thank you to all of the wonderful volunteers and your ipads!”
  • “The video call service was a lifeline while my mum spent a month on the ward. Thank you for your kindness”.
Both hospitals would like to remind patients that they can support the NHS during the second wave of coronavirus by following the following guidelines:
  • Not to attend hospital if you have symptoms of Covid-19 or have been in contact with anyone who has recently tested positive – even if you have no symptoms yourself.
  • Wear a mask, wash your hands regularly and stick to all social distancing guidance at all times.
  • If you need to go to A&E please do so on your own unless it is absolutely essential that you have someone with you to support you. Our departments are enforcing this rule.
  • Face-to-face visiting to most wards is still not allowed except in exceptional circumstances (eg end of life care) which must be agreed in advance with the ward’s nurse in charge.
  • Special arrangements are in place in maternity units – check with the hospital’s maternity department if you are unsure.
  • Outpatients – please try to attend appointments alone and arrive no more than five minutes before your appointment time to reduce social distancing pressure on waiting areas.
  • Paediatrics – one parent/guardian only.  Strictly no siblings.
  • If a hospital visit is necessary wash your hands thoroughly, for 20 seconds at least, or use the hand sanitiser, on both arrival and on leaving.
For more details on visiting arrangements at KGH go to:

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