"Why do visiting hours differ so much?"

About: NHS Fife Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh at Little France / Medicine for the Elderly Royal Victoria Hospital / Geriatric Assessment

(as a carer),

Visiting times seems a paltry thing to write an opinion about when you are thankful for the care your relative is given. However the effect of visiting hours has as we have found a large impact on life as a family.

Over the last year two of our parents have had hospital visits. We are the sandwich generation with children still at home doing exams and elderly parents who need care. Still working long hours and not a large family.

In the last year my Mum has had two hospital visits accumulating in 9 weeks in total in hospital in Edinburgh. My father in law had 7 days in hospital in Fife. Each ward had it's own visiting hours. One ward had visiting in the afternoon and the evening in NHS Lothian. One ward 3-8pm in NHS Fife and I observed a nurse tell relatives they still had two minutes to go before they could visit. Another ward in NHS Lothian had visiting hours 10-8pm. Two of the wards had protected meal times.

Our aim as a family was to visit Mum every day not only to help Mums spirits but to pick up laundry which accumulated quickly. However to do so means having a family meal, and other things fall off the table, exercise for the primary care giver deteriorates and leaving the car at home is not an option. By far the most helpful visiting hours were the 10am to 8pm not just for family life but for Mum.

Nurses involved us in the care, putting up intravenous fluids etc with us in the room. The care was transparent, given with confidence and high standard. In rehabilitation the occupational therapist welcomed an older grandchild to go with Mum to the department. I am not sure why the visiting hours differ so much, why some wards manage the long visiting hours. I appreciate that patients requiring procedures going for surgery etc will have different visiting, and that 4 bedded wards make it difficult for privacy but you have to ask what is best for the community that you are caring for.

I would say we were happy with all the care that our relatives received but looking at visiting hours may make a difference to not just the patient.

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Response from Craig White, Divisional Clinical Lead, Directorate of Health Quality and Strategy, Scottish Government

picture of Craig White

Dear Allisonr01

Many thanks for taking the time to share you experiences of the importance of a more person-centred approach to hospital visiting times. Scottish Government are committed to supporting our colleagues in all NHS Boards across the country to introduce more person-centred arrangements, tailored to the individual preferences and needs when people are in hospital (as opposed to an approach that is influenced more by outdated custom and practice that restricts visiting to times that are decided by other people).

I commissioned this video to show the benefits of person-centred visiting in the areas where this is already in place: https://www.dropbox.com/s/gymtode71ox8zto/FINAL%20Master%20Edit%20PCV%20MEDIUM.wmv

Your posting is a helpful reminder of the need to accelerate progress in this area, something that is receiving the attention of leaders across NHSScotland. Your observations remind everyone how important it is for us to focus our efforts on making sure that we have reliable ways of making sure that our approach to the organisation of care and treatment takes account of what matters most to people

Thanks again,

Craig White

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Response from Louise Ewing, Patient Relations Manager, NHS Fife We are preparing to make a change

picture of Louise Ewing

Dear Allisonr01

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience of hospital visiting. The Senior Nursing Team here in Fife do not think this is a paltry issue and very much value your feedback in this regard. Some time ago we worked with patients and visitors to shape our visiting arrangements; however we are now committed to doing so once again.

I see that Craig White has responded from a national perspective and I thought it would be worth letting you know that a number of staff from Fife attended the session where Craig shared the video. As a result of that staff have returned to base with a refreshed commitment to the issue of visiting arrangements and we will gladly keep you up to date with our progress.

Mrs Morag Gardiner, Acting Director of Nursing of Acute Services is also happy to be contacted directly to discuss this further.

Thank you once again for taking the time to share your experience


Louise Ewing

Patient Relations Manager

NHS Fife

01592 648153

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