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Call out to help loved ones connect

When a family member is admitted to hospital, it can be a worrying time for relatives, and getting timely information on their loved one’s condition isn’t always easy, despite the best efforts of hard pressed frontline NHS staff.

As part of efforts to address this, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, with funding received from Welsh Government, is challenging business and academia to come up with innovative solutions, with up to £330,000 set aside to develop the winning project.

The challenge, which is the latest of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s Small Business Research Initiatives (SBRI), will help tackle the leading cause of dissatisfaction reported by friends and relatives of hospital patients in North Wales.

Hosted by the Health Board, The SBRI Centre of Excellence brings together the healthcare sector and businesses to solve challenges facing the NHS.

Previous SBRI initiatives include a project which helped the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust significantly reduce the time and cost associated with cleaning ambulances, allowing paramedics to support more patients during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Tracey Williamson, Nurse Consultant for Dementia with BCUHB, who led the successful SBRI application said:

“We know that relatives can suffer considerable stress and anxiety at not knowing what is going on when their loved one is admitted to hospital and this can also be worrying for patients. This situation particularly affects those patients who may not have or be able to use their own phones, or those who have cognitive limitations such as dementia or mental health needs.

“Due to the pressures they are under, our hard working staff can often struggle to keep patients’ relatives updated by telephone. Add to this the burden of removing and replacing protective clothing (PPE) and handwashing to answer the phone, and the result is an environment of inadequate communication.”

 “The current system of telephoning isn’t always effective and we know that relatives can spend long periods of time on hold before they get an answer, and then do not necessarily get any information that is relevant to their loved one’s current condition.

“We’re really looking forward to working with the business community and SBRI team to develop innovative solutions that will improve access to information for patients’ relatives while reducing the demand on frontline staff.”

Businesses are invited to attend a briefing event on 30th November, and they will have until 14th December to apply for the SBRI challenge, working to a final deadline in March 2024 to deliver potential solutions. To find out more, please visit the SBRI Centre of Excellence website.