A NEW team set up at Hywel Dda health board to provide a link between patients and their family and friends is proving invaluable.

A health board spokesperson said many of the elderly patients that come into hospital via an ambulance do not have anything with them – no clothes or any way of contacting their relatives.

With patients not able to have visitors due to Covid-19 restrictions, a team of Family Liaison Officers (FLO) has been created to provide that link.

Owain Davies a family liaison officer in Glangwilli General Hospital at Carmarthen, said: “Out of the 30 patients I liaised with when I first started, 15 of them didn’t have any clothes with them or a way of contacting their relatives, they were having to wear a hospital gown.

“They have come in via an ambulance and only have the clothes they are wearing and that could be their pyjamas. Others have no way of contacting their loved ones with no phone or devices with them.”

Although the FLO team are there to help those patients that do come in with nothing, health officials are keen for people to think about how they can ‘help us to help you’ as hospital admissions soar.

If you, or a relative/loved one, are admitted into hospital as an emergency take a moment to consider what a patient needs to bring in with them.

A small bag is all that is needed which has in it - toiletries, a small towel, a change of clothes, nightwear, slippers or shoes, maybe a good book to pass the time and a phone or device to keep in touch.

Owain continued, “Having your own belongings and wearing your own clothes can make a huge difference to the patients and being able to keep in touch with their family and friends helps them down the road to recovery quicker.”

Sister Nia Jones and ocupational therapist Hannah Moses both agree that the introduction of the FLO team has meant they have more time to spend with the patients to do more of the things they need to do to get them better.

Sister Nia Jones added, “It’s really helped us during the difficult, busy times, recently.”

Mandy Rayani, executive director of nursing, quality and patient experience, added: “Our family liaison officers have already in such a short space of time proven to be a tremendous asset for our most elderly and vulnerable patients in particular.

“They have been one of the bright lights in what has been an otherwise dark year for health and care services up and down the country. If those coming into hospital could also help us to help them by thinking about what they need to bring with them, that would be appreciated.”