Publish date: 20 October 2020

A critical care nurse at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Helen Burgess, has produced a short film to provide reassurance to relatives unable to visit their loved ones because of visitor restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The film below aims to help relatives gain a better understanding of the environment in which their loved ones are being treated, the identity of the staff caring for them and the level of care and expertise being provided.

The film was funded by the hospital charity, The National Brain Appeal, from an Emergency Fund created in response to the crisis.

Helen said: “Restricting visitors to the hospital is really difficult for us but vital to contain the spread of the virus. We are acutely aware of how anxious relatives must feel to not be able to visit a loved one in critical care or meet the people who are caring for them.”

The film is intended to prepare relatives and provide some context that will help when staff phone them with updates. Staff have also been facilitating ‘virtual visits’ using phones and tablets. Seeing staff in full personal protective equipment (PPE) can be unsettling but they want to show that that in spite of protective equipment, staff are looking after their patients nicely and providing good care.

Helen said: “At the height of the first wave, we were coping with a lot ourselves, having to adjust to wearing PPE, caring for much higher numbers of critically ill patients, plus our concerns for our own families and loved ones.

“As soon as we had a chance to pause and reflect, we knew we wanted to do something to help relatives understand how their loved ones are being cared for. It is crucial they know that we really do care about every single one of our patients and we understand that they are some of the most important people in the world to their loved ones.”

“We want to show we run a compassionate and caring environment as well as one that delivers a high level of clinical expertise. We have made sure that the language we use is clear and avoids being too technical. We show the imagery of the unit and the kinds of procedures that we might perform.

“We hope that it provides reassurance, removes some of the fears that people can have when things are unknown, and also show that we recognise their concerns during a very difficult time.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on all staff at the NHNN. So much had to change in a very short space of time to protect patients and staff from the spread of the virus.