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A helping hand: why Derriford Hospital has extended visiting hours

It's hoped the measure will reduce anxiety for both patients and the people who care for them when they leave hospital. Credit: ITV News

Derriford Hospital in Plymouth has increased its visiting hours - after seeing patients benefit from more time with visitors.

All inpatient wards - except critical care and maternity - will be brought under the new timetable from today.

7:30
Most adult inpatient wards open to visitors
22:00
Hospital closes to visitors

The hospital hopes that by getting families and other visitors to be more involved with looking after a patient while they're on the wards, they'll feel more confident helping to care for their loved one at home when the time comes for them to be discharged.

It's thought the measure will reduce anxiety for both the patient and their relatives, and should improve communication between all parties.

To that end, a "Visitors’ Charter for Adult Inpatients" has been developed. It outlines what staff will do and what they ask visitors to do too.

It describes what standards visitors should keep to, for example:

  • ensuring that no more than two people visit at any one time
  • supporting and encouraging the patient during mealtimes
  • observing quiet times
  • being willing to leave for a short period of time, such as during doctors’ rounds, etc.

Spreading visiting across the day also means speaking to medical staff should be easier.

William Rooney's family live a long drive away - and their visits have felt a bit brief for everyone Credit: ITV News

The longer hours are also in recognition of the valuable input family and carers can have on a patient's happiness.

For William Rooney, a visit from his family is the highlight of his day. They live in Cornwall, so the 100 mile round trip to Derriford isn't always possible and is over too quickly.

His family are sure the new visiting hours will improve his recovery time.

It would just help him recover I think. The children can spend a bit more time with him because they are really missing him at the moment and I know that he really misses them when he's up here.

It would just help him I think, to have family around him, until he can come home.

– Emma Rooney, daughter-in-law

It's a big change for the hospital and those that use it but it's hoped that, in time, the initiative will be rolled out across all departments.

We recognise that this will be a big change but we hope that everyone can see the difference this partnership will make and that this is the right thing to do for our patients and their families

– Sue Timmins, Matron for Trauma, Orthopaedics and Rheumatology