Right off the back of my other post on mixed sex wards this seems rather personal, but is something I’ve had a passion for since I started volunteering.
I’ve always thought that visiting hours were to restricting and having been an inpatient (or inmate as I felt) I used to count down the minutes until visiting started again so I could see my family. Which brings me onto my first point,
1)Aslong as those without family are not neglected then I don’t see how this cannot benefits everyone as If a relative is looking after X it gives nurses more time to spend with Y
2)As for disturbing the patient, nurse should be educated on reasonable ways to discourage visitors or ask them to leave if the patient is obviously becoming tired or distressed.
3)Its being said that relatives are untrained which is true and therefore the tasks which they are being asked to do need to be limited, for example I would be happy to do any personnal care for my relatives, including bathing etc however some people wouldn’t and if the relative is not comfortable with what is required they need to be able to communicate this easily and not be forced into doing the task.
4)The type of hospital stay and length is also crucial, when I was in as a day patient my boyfriend was not allowed to remain on the ward with me which I found shocking (wisdom tooth removal) and think is an ideal opportunity for this new policy i,e relatives can keep a hold of clothes etc or in my case mash up the food so I could get out of there. However for a patient in long term it would be unreasonable to expect a relative to help at every meal time.
All in all I think the idea is a step in the right direction with people taking more responsibility for the people the love however the finer details need setting before it is rolled out in order to protect the most important people in the NHS – THE PATIENTS