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John’s Campaign pledge for our North Kent community hospitals

Virgin Care in North Kent has pledged to support John’s Campaign and work in partnership with carers across its four community hospitals.

The organisation provides a range of care across Dartford, Gravesham & Swanley, and Swale NHS Clinical Commissioning Group areas in partnership with the NHS.

And it has vowed to ensure carers have extended, flexible visiting hours at each to help meet their loved ones’ needs.

The move supports the nationwide John’s Campaign, founded in 2014 in memory of Dr John Gerrard who was diagnosed with dementia and quickly deteriorated while staying on a ward at a hospital in a different area of the country where his family were not entitled to support him and his care.

The campaign, backed by MPs and NHS England, aims to ensure carers are treated as equal partners to clinicians and are valued, as they can help their loved one stay stronger while on a ward rather than suffer because of a lack of activity and familiarity.

This access and involvement is offered as a right for carers but never as a duty on them. Virgin Care recognises that carers are often carrying a heavy burden and will do its best to help them feel comfortable should they chose to continue their support for their loved ones

Virgin Care’s Harty Ward, at Sheppey Community Hospital, Sheerness; the Kestrel Ward, at Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital; the Livingstone Ward, at Dartford’s Livingstone Community Hospital; and the Sapphire Ward, at Gravesham Community Hospital, Gravesend, have now signed the pledge.

It states: “We aim to work in partnership with those close to patients as part of our commitment to provide high quality care for people using our services.

“Carers for patients with dementia are offered extended and flexible visiting hours to help meet the needs of their loved one, in support of John’s Campaign.

“We want carers to feel comfortable should they wish to provide assistance at mealtimes or stay with their relative or friend overnight.”

Each hospital provides services such as rehabilitation following falls or strokes as well as end of life care.

And each now has bed-chairs in their inpatient units and have made space available for carers to stay overnight if they wish to.

The sites will also make sure that the ability to stay longer or overnight is available for carers of patients with any needs that suggest they could benefit from having a loved one with them and is not limited to those with dementia.

Julia Jones, the co-founder of John’s Campaign, said ‘We’re delighted with the Virgin Care pledge to welcome carers in its four North Kent community hospital wards.

“This extra level of personal support offers frail and vulnerable patients the best chance to benefit from the clinical care that’s being offered. It also facilitates communication and helps people stay together in difficult circumstances.

“It’s important for families to see their loved one receiving best care and to be able to be as involved as they wish to be. This partnership-working gives patients the best chance of a positive outcome and when this is no longer possible, a dignified and compassionate end-of-life.”

Ash Capel, the Quality & Clinical Effectiveness Lead for Virgin Care in North Kent, added: “Carers play an enormously important part in the lives of those who stay at our community hospitals, many of whom are older patients that are often vulnerable or have complex care needs.

“We are pleased to be able to offer the opportunity for patients to have their loved ones around them at what is often a disorientating and distressing time for those with dementia and other significant care needs.

“We are very proud to sign up to John’s Campaign and we would like to thank Julia for working with us to help us deliver this significant milestone to improve patient care at our community hospitals.”

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