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Nurse raises money to buy iPads for hospitals

Fundraising inspired by the comfort of video calls with her father before he died from COVID-19

Picture shows adult nursing senior lecturer Aimee Hilton with St Peter’s Hospice director of patient care Chris Benson.
Adult nursing senior lecturer Aimee Hilton (right) with St Peter’s Hospice
director of patient care Chris Benson

A nurse is raising money to buy iPads for hospitals after using one to communicate with her dying father in his final hours.

Adult nursing senior lecturer Aimee Hilton said her father, James Spalding, was admitted to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro in March after reacting to a skin cancer treatment, and then contracted COVID-19.

‘iPad enabled me to play him music and reassure him when he needed it’

Ms Hilton, who works at the University of the West of England in Bristol, asked to be permitted to help care for her father, but was not allowed to due to trust rules barring visitors.

Mr Spalding had no phone, so Ms Hilton said she and her stepmother initially had to keep calling staff for updates on his condition.

But when he was moved to an isolation unit, hospital staff told her they had bought an iPad for patients and suggested the family use video calls to talk to him.

Ms Hilton says this enabled her to communicate with her father for the final six hours of his life, and was a great comfort. ‘Although I couldn’t hold his hand, I could play him music and reassure him when he needed it,’ she said.

Communication will offer families comfort

‘I will never know the impact or comfort this offered dad, but I know it will offer me comfort in years to come.’

Wanting to provide the same opportunity to other families, Ms Hilton set out to raise enough money to get another iPad for the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

The response to her fundraising enabled her to buy 18 of the devices and she is now donating them across south west England.

‘I will go on as long as people donate money, I will keep going,’ she said.

Many loved ones have been unable to visit

One recipient is St Peter’s Hospice in Bristol, where director of patient care Chris Benson said it made a wonderful difference to patients.

‘While we have allowed single visitors throughout the pandemic, this has still meant many loved ones have not been able to visit or see each other,’ she said.

‘Not all of our patients have a smartphone or tablet, and the iPad allows those patients to connect with the people most important to them.’

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