A new initiative has been launched to allow more patients in hospitals to make video calls with loved ones using donated tablets and phones.
To contain the spread of Covid-19, visits to hospitalised patients across the country are currently suspended. Therefore, many people may find themselves isolated and alone, especially at a time when they are feeling unwell.
To help them, Sameer Zaman, a clinical PhD Fellow at the UKRI Centre in AI for Healthcare at Imperial College, has launched the initiative #VirtualVisiting.
While volunteering in the NHS cardiology ward of Hammersmith Hospital, Sameer noticed: "One of the cruellest things about the Covid19 illness is that hospital doors are closed to visitors to reduce infection. Sick patients can't see their loved ones and sadly many suffer without their family by their side. Most are elderly and don't have access to technology. But many of us may have spare devices at home that they’re happy to donate, making it easier for them to get in touch with their family".
Britta Ross, UKRI AI for Healthcare Centre Manager, is coordinating the #VirtualVisiting initiative on the ground, outside hospitals. “We managed to gather 3 tablets on the first day, just among our friends and connections. A big thank you goes out to those who donated already, but are aiming for more, to extend this to more wards and other hospitals too”.
If you have fully functioning tablets or phones (ideally with their charger, no SIM needed) that you are happy to donate to Sameer’s cardiology ward and other Imperial NHS Trusts, please get in touch emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @AI4HealthCentre.
Remember some basic precautions before you give away your device: remove any password and sensitive data, make a note of the serial number, save your data and personal information elsewhere.
You can already see the positive impact of the #VirtualVisiting initiative on Sameer's twitter account.
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