Families can see loved ones in intensive care virtually thanks to joint project between Southwark hospitals

Josh Salisbury (23 April, 2020)

The Life Line project is aiming for two tablets per every ICU ward in the country

36345Image: Dr Joel Meyer and Professor Louise Rose

Families whose loved ones are in intensive care for coronavirus can now be virtually present at their bedside thanks to a joint project between Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College hospitals.

Life Lines allows relatives to see and speak to their loved ones using a tablet on a secure platform, as well as meet clinicians to ask them questions about the care.

Due to the pandemic, physical visiting in hospitals is extremely limited – so the project aims to allow people an opportunity to say their final goodbyes to loved ones.

As part of the projects, two ICU tablets will be provided to intensive care units across the UK, supported by a fundraising drive.

It is the brainchild of a team involving Professor Louise Rose, a professor of critical care at King’s, and Dr Joel Meyer, a critical care consultant at Guy’s and St Thomas’.

“To reduce the risk of infection, hospitals are currently restricting visitors which means many patients don’t have any contact with their relatives once they are admitted to intensive care,” said Dr Meyer.

“Not being able to connect with loved ones is such a cruel element of this pandemic.

“Although ICU patients are usually sedated, hearing a loved one’s voice can be extremely comforting.

“This secure platform enables family members to virtually be by their bedside, which is particularly important when patients are approaching the end of their lives.”

Professor Rose added that the tech also helped alleviate the stress of critical care nurses looking after the seriously ill patients.

“Together, we’re able to help keep families connected when they cannot be near, which may help to dramatically reduce family and patient distress and could revolutionise the way we communicate with families in the future,” she said.

Initial seed funding of £1 million has been provided to kick-start the project with 4G enabled tablets.

Fundraising will continue in the coming weeks until a goal of two tablets per every ICU ward has been reached.

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