Staff on two wards at Inverness’ Raigmore Hospital are to trial a new visiting policy for families, friends and carers of patients as part of a 10-week pilot.
The trials on Ward 3A and Ward 7C will start on Monday (May 22) and will run until Sunday July 30.
Prior to the trial, doctors, nurses and allied health professionals will be asked to complete a questionnaire and the data will be used to complete an evaluation of the pilot study.
The comments made – positive or negative - will be confidential and the staff will be given feedback on the information gathered.
A post-pilot questionnaire will then be given out to staff for further evaluation. Staff will be able to complete it online should they prefer.
The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016, requires that each local authority and health board provide services and support for all unpaid carers. NHS Highland has a duty to ensure that carers are fully engaged in the delivery of care of their loved ones, friends, or neighbours in its hospitals.
Joyce Macleod, NHS Highland’s carer lead at Raigmore, said: "Raigmore hospital has introduced a draft new visiting policy, which invites all visitors to support their loved ones whilst in hospital. A copy is available with the senior charge nurse on each ward.
"It also promotes access to the patient from their carers, at times which may be negotiated to suit the needs of the patient, carer and staff in each area."
She highlighted that the care that families provide may be delivered by one or more people. All carers, therefore, should be welcomed into NHS Highland hospitals, and provided with facilities that support them to carry out their supportive care.
"These facilities should include offers of tea/ coffee/ water and collecting meals from staff canteen in situations where a carer cannot leave the bedside for long periods."
As part of the policy, carer wristbands are to be provided to identify carers to all hospital staff. This also allows the carer to have staff discount in the staff canteen at Raigmore.
Ward staff will be asked to make a daily log of each carer that receives a wristband and mark the ward number on the wristband. The ward log of each carer present in the ward will be used for health and safety reasons. When given the wristband the carer will be offered a referral for support from Connecting Carers.
Connecting Carers referral forms are available in each ward area, and also on the Intranet via the home page for Connecting Carers, support for staff, website. Following a referral, the carer will be given a support plan implemented from the liaison workers at Connecting Carers.
Meanwhile, the new policy will also ensure that all carers should have access to facilities for comfort breaks, which may include a day room, or quiet area and toilet facilities at Raigmore.
The second questionnaire will flag up any data about the implementation of the new draft taking place. Staff, patients, visitors and carers will be able to give their comments to the senior nurse on each shift and a daily record will be kept of any positive or negative comments/issues.