Comment

Vantage point: time to give visitors open access

Visiting times need to be managed but there should be fewer restrictions on when patients can see family and friends

Visiting times need to be managed but there should be fewer restrictions on when patients can see family and friends

Visiting
Picture: iStock

 

The mother of one of my best friends spent Christmas week in hospital following a familiar enough pattern of events: frailty, fall, delirium.

My friend spent the week juggling her part-time staff nurse role, looking after two grandchildren and trying to be with her mum as much as possible.

Her efforts were made no easier by the rigidity of adult ward visiting times, and this got me thinking: why are visiting times on adult wards so restricted?

As a senior nurse in my previous NHS trust, one of the biggest challenges I faced was persuading adult ward sisters to expand their visiting times so that they ran from 12am till 8pm.

The ward sisters put forward various arguments for why this couldn’t happen, involving protection of meal times and patient rest periods, and ensuring that nurses could carry out clinical care without visitors being on the ward.

I suggested to them that expanded visiting times does not mean that visiting times and visitors should not to be managed; there would be no free for all in which visitors could do what they liked.

Charter

I proposed instead a visitors’ charter covering the trust’s expectations about, for example, the number of visitors per patient at any one time, hygiene and infection control, and patient privacy and dignity.

Eventually, my colleagues agreed to pilot expanded visiting times. And, with a few hiccups, it worked well and was introduced across the trust.   

Open-access visiting has been in place for some time in children’s care, so why not in the care of adults? We need to think beyond Pamela Hawthorn’s seminal book, Nurse - I Want my Mummy, to: ‘Nurse, my Mummy needs me.’

What are you waiting for? Let’s pilot open-access visiting for adults and roll it out across England.


About the author

Jane_NaishJane Naish is associate director of nursing, allied health professionals and governance at Barts Health NHS Trust, London, and a member of the Nursing Management editorial advisory board

 

 

    

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