Investment in welcome packs gives inpatients and their families peace of mind

Virgin Care community hospital welcome pack

Background

We provide more than 230 NHS services across England ranging from primary care, such as GP practices, to community services, including sexual health and district nursing.

Since 2012 we have been running more than 100 services in Surrey, providing care good enough for our own families and all of our community hospitals have received full marks from Clinical Quality Commission inspectors (January 2014).

The challenge

Being admitted into hospital can be a stressful time for patients and their families and it is often sudden or unexpected. During this time people often don’t get the chance to gather the little essentials like a toothbrush and toiletries. Similarly, when you arrive at hospital, it can be quite daunting to be in a new place, surrounded by new people and possibly on your own. This time can be particularly distressing for older people and patients with dementia. We recognised this as an opportunity to make a difference by reducing the stress for patients, carers and families.

Making the difference

Working together with local staff and patient groups as well as  drawing inspiration from great customer service provided in other settings, such as hotels and Virgin Atlantic’s planes, we created our patient welcome pack and handbook.

The purpose of the patient pack and handbook was to:

  • Make patients feel welcome and cared for
  • Allow patients to feel less reliant on friends and family to bring in their items
  • Make patients’ stay more comfortable
  • Save patients money
  • Give patients up to date information they need during their stay

The patient packs are a designed to be fun and functional including all the essential care items that patients might need to feel comfortable in the early stages of their stay including: soap, a hairbrush, tissues, a toothbrush and toothpaste. The outer bag itself is perfect for transporting washing home and a small waterproof inner pocket can be popped out as a toiletry bag. There’s also a puzzle pack to help keep patients entertained and mentally active, plus a 3-in-1 magnifying glass, bookmark and ruler.

The handbook, called ‘A guide to your stay’, is full of information that patients (and visitors) will need. This includes details about services available, hospital policies, visiting times and a guide on how to identify different hospital staff to help put patients’ minds at ease. We launched the patient packs and handbooks in time for Christmas 2013 across all of our community hospitals.

The benefits

So far we have had a great response from patients and staff about the patient pack and handbook. The results from responses on patient feedback cards given out with packs in January were as follows:

  • 80% said the patient pack was good (63%) or great (17%)
  • 55% said it was very useful or extremely useful, 42% said somewhat useful
  • 67% said they would reuse the pack again after leaving hospital

“The pack made me feel welcome and less of a trouble to staff. The contents have been well thought through and covered all the things that I needed.” Patient at Haslemere Community Hospital.

“Patients have told us that the welcome packs are ‘absolutely brilliant’ and that they make their stay in hospital much more comfortable. Many of the patients don’t have time to bring a bag with them and these packs can help to lessen the anxiety they may experience at this difficult time.”
Annie Christie, Matron at Woking Community Hospital.

What’s next

We’re continuing to review the results of feedback to see how we can develop the patient pack in the future.

The handbook is being translated into Urdu and Nepalese to cater for specific communities who use our hospitals in Surrey.

We are also looking at how we can create a pack for children and young people being cared for by our integrated children’s services in Devon.

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