COVID-19: nurse raises money for iPads to help patients ‘connect with loved ones’

Leona Harris’s efforts have generated £55,000 – and counting

Leona Harris (right) and colleagues at Fairfield General Hospital help a patient to use an iPad

A nurse has raised thousands of pounds to buy iPads so patients can speak to loved ones after the COVID-19 pandemic led to visiting restrictions.

Staff nurse Leona Harris, who works at Fairfield General Hospital in Bury, Lancashire, has so far raised £55,000, which has funded the purchase of 140 tablets.

Enabling patients to communicate with family and friends

‘Patients not being able to see or connect with loved ones inspired me to start doing something,’ Ms Harris said.

‘The patients on a COVID-19 ward only see people with masks on from the moment they wake up until they go to bed.’

To highlight how the iPads can make a difference, Ms Harris cited one example of a patient with Parkinson’s disease who was unable to use a telephone.

‘We FaceTimed his family. He was not able to communicate [verbally], but he was stroking his daughter’s face on the screen,’ she said.

‘It makes a difference to the patients, families and staff.’

Sponsored activities have boosted funds

Leona Harris

The money has been generated from donations to a JustGiving fundraising page, as well as by friends of Ms Harris who raffled sports memorabilia.

Law firm Simpson Millar, where Ms Harris’ husband Nick works, also helped to raise money through sponsored activities.

‘Some people shaved their hair, took part in online quizzes for every office around the country, and others were doing mini-marathons,’ Ms Harris said. ‘They also started donating their commuting costs.’

Patients around England have benefited from the iPads

Ms Harris has ensured the iPads have been distributed around the country, including outside of hospital settings.

All the iPads have protective cases that can be wiped down after every use.

Ms Harris thanked all those involved so far for their kindness. As well as the money raised by Simpson Millar, Ms Harris’s JustGiving fundraising page reached its original target of £25,000, so this target has now been doubled.

Online benefits for NHS staff

Technology is also being used to support health service workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The Games for Carers website allows NHS staff to download a free game from a list of more than 80,000, available for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and mobile. To access the game, staff need to enter their name and NHS email address.
  • The RCN is holding online events on poetry and drawing for its members in May. 

Further information

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