It’s only in the past decade that mobile phones have slowly been allowed into hospitals. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic however, governments began to advise hospitals to encourage patients to use mobile devices. Not only was it a way of making sure patients used personal Track and Trace applications but smartphones also provided essential one to one contact with loved ones as a pivotal part of patient care. They helped to give people hope.
Sallyann Wright is clearly a doer and not a daydreamer. She’s a natural problem solver. Although she lives thousands of miles away in the West Midlands of England, she co-founded a charity aimed at bettering the lives of children in Nakuru, a slum town in Kenya.
Social distancing measures dramatically changed every single hospital. Patients were suddenly alone. No visitors. No friends or family. “Being alone in a Covid isolation area, surrounded by staff wearing full PPE and with family not allowed to visit you when you are sick, can be a frightening and unsettling experience,” Sallyann says.
Seeing the fear that isolation was causing patients; her team decided to tackle the situation head-on. “It became evident that not having contact with friends and family was a major part in the patients’ journey,” she says.
They couldn’t use their own phones because the average smartphone isn’t waterproof and cannot be cleaned easily and regularly. And in an old building with thick walls the signal was notoriously bad.
After Sallyann posted a call for help on Twitter, a communications sales manager saw the appeal and asked the mobile phone network EE what they should do and together they found a solution. In just under two weeks a bundle of 10 Cat S52’s turned up on the ward. The Cat S52 was chosen because it works like a normal smartphone, but it’s also been designed to be used in real-world environments. Durable, waterproof and even bleach proof, these Cat Phones are perfect for use where people need to sanitise them constantly between use and where they won’t break if they are accidentally dropped or knocked about a bit.
“Cat phones help us to provide satisfactory care and advocacy when our patients cannot be with their loved ones. Being unable to tell your loved ones that you love them before going off to intensive care can have long lasting effects”
Now, her team at Russells Hall Hospital in the West Midlands in England can focus on getting people better: “It has not been an easy time for healthcare professionals, along with many others, but a real team spirit was evident. Support for colleagues was shown in many ways. Morale was at times very low but when you work in a team such as that of an emergency department, you have to pull together. An unprecedented time brought about exceptional courage. I think we are all very proud of our teams and of the NHS.”