Arnold Lodge Patients Maintaining Contact with Family, Friends and Carers During COVID-19 Lock-down


In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, Arnold Lodge stopped all planned visits to patients during the week commencing 16th March 2020.

It was soon recognised that this would have a detrimental impact on the health and well-being of the patients and their families, friends and carers.

NHS Sparks

It was agreed that an alternative solution needed to be found and discussions started with the Trust’s IT department. They had concerns about using the Trust network but they suggested utilising the NHS Sparks WiFi as it could be provided via the Trust’s infrastructure. It was agreed that as NHS Sparks has a web filtering facility, is fully compliant on legal requirements and data protection, that this would be a good solution to the information governance concerns for the Trust, patients and the public.

Very quickly the wards now had a facility that was able to access a managed internet via WiFi that was separate to the Trust’s network.

Tablet computer use

Tablets were purchased for each ward configured to access the Skype app, mitigated against the risks of inappropriate access to the internet and guidelines developed for staff to ensure their safe use. This included protecting the privacy of other patients on the ward to ensure they would not be shown on camera.

A collaborative outcome

The social work team at Arnold Lodge contacted family, friends and carers to ask if they wanted to have “virtual visits” via Skype and helped them in setting up their accounts if they needed assistance.

Clinical teams started to discuss the option for Skype visits with those patients who were not aware of how video calling technology worked and what they would experience if they wanted to have a “virtual visit”.

Now patients, family, friends, and carers are able to see as well as speak, to each other throughout the day. This has proven to be beneficial at a time when the country is in lockdown and the ward activities have been affected so much by the impact of COVID-19.

Skype has been well received by our patients and the feedback from family, friends and carers has also been very positive. We are really pleased that during these difficult times we have been able to introduce something, that has had such a beneficial effect and anticipate it to continue into our futures.

Ian Mawer,

Security and Support Services Manager,

Arnold Lodge

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