Open visiting was introduced by Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull Hospitals, in April 2015 to help aid recovery for patients and provide a more positive experience for relatives and staff.
Now figures have shown that in the period since April the Trust recorded a reduction of 259 falls across its three hospitals compared to the same period the previous year. A lot of work has been going on within the Trust around falls prevention which has no doubt contributed to this reduction but it is believed the introduction of open visiting has also played a significant part.
Julie Tunney (pictured), deputy chief nurse at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We did some evaluation work following the introduction of open visiting which involved us speaking to patients, relatives and staff about their experiences and to get their feedback to see if the policy had been successful and where we could improve.
“We will look to adapt the policy as a result of that feedback, particularly around numbers of visitors and disturbance to other patients, but the overwhelming conclusion we had from all sides was that open visiting is the right thing to do for patients and a positive step forward.
“This has been highlighted by the reduction in falls we have seen across all the hospitals which we believe can be put down, at least in part, to the introduction of open visiting. The flexibility of this policy enables patients with dementia and other elderly patients to have their carers and loved ones with them more often and be more involved in their care, including assisting with tasks such as feeding and going to the bathroom.
“We have seen that having that support and a familiar face, on top of the expert care and support from staff, particularly for patients with dementia or delirium who can become easily confused, helps to reduce the potential for falls within the acute setting.”
The questionnaire’s filled in by patients and carers during the evaluation saw feedback ranging from, ‘You can work around your job, school and children’, ‘Spending more time with my mother has helped her anxiety’ and ‘I was able to use my bus pass to visit and stay longer’.