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November 2020

Lady aided to make a video call with her daughter jpeg
Patient Mary Cauchi speaks to daughter Michelle Cauchi with the help of physiotherapist Dasum Kim.

Virtual visits to all Western wards

Western Health’s virtual visits program has kept patients in touch with loved ones during COVID-19.

The program, which was introduced across Sunshine, Footscray and Williamstown hospitals in August as a response to the stage four lockdown, supports online communication for inpatients.

Every ward has a designated ‘allied health virtual visiting lead’, who arranges and facilitates contact for patients.

This can include making appointments, providing devices and teaching patients how to make video calls on their own devices.

ASPIRE unit manager Chris Weiers said the program was an important part of providing care during the pandemic.

‘Hospitals can be isolating and frightening places to be,’ Mr Weiers said.

‘It has been important to maintain connections between family and patients and it has also put a focus on the psychosocial aspect of care we provide.’

The benefits were being felt by patients, families and staff.

‘We have seen improvements in the mood and motivation of patients after video calls.

‘Video calls with familiar family members have helped calm confused or anxious patients.

‘The program has also connected more interstate and international family members to patients who would have previously not been able to make that connection.’

While providing human contact has been the main goal, Mr Weiers said some patients had other motivations.

‘Many patients call their pets or want video tours of their gardens to make sure family members are watering and weeding while they are in hospital.’