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Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) have launched an online form, that lets friends and relatives support a patient from the safety of their own home.

For some people, especially those with dementia or delirium, the experience of being admitted to hospital can be quite distressing. This is particularly true in the current climate, as the Trust has recently made changes to visiting, so that relatives can keep each other safe by socially distancing. These restrictions mean that it may be a while before certain patients get to see familiar faces again. To help address this, and introduce a little normality into the lives of patients, DBTH has created an electronic version of their ‘’This is Me’’ form. 

Hosted on the Trust’s website, this short questionnaire allows family members to provide extra information about a given patient, so that care providers are able to form a clearer picture of their individual needs. For example, the form asks about their hobbies and interests, their daily routine, their anxieties, and if they have any special mementos that they like to keep nearby.

These details will then be collated into a one-page profile for clinical staff to reference. Once equipped with this deeper understanding, nurses will be able to offer more personalised care and look after the patient in a way that better suits them.

Speaking about the ‘’This is Me’’ form, Beth Cotton, Lead Dementia Nurse, said: ‘’Here at DBTH, we recognise that no one knows a patient better than their friends and family. So it makes sense for us to approach them as the experts and learn everything that we can. Under normal circumstances, we’d be able to talk to loved ones face-to-face and get to know families along with the patient, but thatis difficult right now.’’

‘’The electronic form is our solution to this problem, as it gives you the opportunity to collaborate and care with us from a distance.  By sharing your insights and acting as a font of knowledge, you will help us to individually tailor the care that we deliver.  The questionnaire itself is quick and easy-to-understand, and will fill you with confidence that we know your loved one as a person.  Whether it’s their sleeping habits, their favourite conversation topics, or their history: it all helps.’’

In addition to the form, DBTH have devised a number of other ways that relatives can stay involved with a patient’s care during the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, it is now possible for them to send in handwritten letters, safely drop off fresh clothes or favourite foods and keep in touch over video calls.