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New policy sees increased visiting hours across North Wales hospital wards

A new policy is increasing visiting hours for patients receiving care in hospitals across North Wales – including at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s (BCUHB) new opening visiting times policy removes restricted visiting hours, offering increased flexibility for the families, friends and carers of patients on many wards.

The new policy, which is now in place, applies to all general wards across the Health Board, including Wrexham Maelor Hospital, Glan Clwyd Hospital and Ysbyty Gwynedd.

BCUHB say the policy means that scheduled visiting are no longer in place on general wards, with the aim of encouraging families and carers to feel more involved in patients’ care. Open visiting allows visitors to see a patient at a time which suits them and is in the best interest of patients.

BCUHB added that where possible, healthcare staff will work around agreed visiting hours to make the most of the increased flexibility. However, when this is not possible and patients require care, treatments or examinations, visitors may be asked to leave a room or ward to allow staff to attend to a patient. Likewise, visitors may be asked to temporarily leave an area should a nearby patient require urgent care or attention.

Restricted visiting hours will remain in place in specialist departments. This includes where specialist care is provided, such as in critical care, high dependency units, and coronary care, as well as in maternity, special care baby and paediatric units where the needs of the baby, child or young person are considered, and parents are encouraged to be partners in their child’s care.

Where restricted visiting hours remain in place, patients and their visitors will be informed of the set visiting hours.

Gill Harris, Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery for the Health Board, said: “Contact with friends, families and carers is a really important part of helping many of our patients get better, which is why we’ve introduced a new, more flexible approach to visiting hours.

“By opening up our visiting hours, we want families and friends to feel more involved in the care of their loved ones, helping them to get more benefit from inpatient care and hopefully making their transition from hospital back into the community smoother.

“In short, we’re inviting friends, family and carers to visit patients at whatever time suits them – provided it’s in the best interest of the patient. We respectfully ask that sleeping hours remain as uninterrupted as possible, as well as times when our staff are providing direct care or treatment.

“The aim is to better meet the psychological and emotional needs of our patients by allowing their support system – friends, relatives and carers – to spend more time with them.

“We also acknowledge there’s no obligation for visitors to spend more time with loved ones, and recognise that, in some circumstances, hospital care can provide a respite of sorts. We simply want to offer increased flexibility for visitors, which in turn will help us to provide the best care possible for our patients.”

Visitors who are able to assist patients with their nutritional needs are welcome to visit during meal times, though protected mealtimes will otherwise remain in place.

BCUHB added: “We continue to recommend that only two people visit a patient at any given time, though there may be occasions when the number of visitors could exceed this number. Where families and visitors feel it is appropriate to have an increased number of visitors, we ask that they discuss these requests with the nurse in charge to ensure the needs of all patients under their care are met.”

“We also ask that visitors continue to follow our infection prevention guidelines to help stop the risk of infections. All visitors should not visit if they have signs of a cough, cold or diarrhoea or vomiting, or have been in contact with an infectious disease, such as chicken pox.”

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