Oldham patients given contact lifeline thanks to donated iPads from law firm

Date published: 13 May 2020

Patients battling coronavirus in the Royal Oldham hospital are being helped to keep in touch with loved ones thanks to a donation of iPads by staff  from a Lancashire law firm.

Workers at Simpson Millar have seen friends and families affected by the virus and also have relatives on the frontline as key workers so they decided they wanted to help out victims in any way they could.

So staff at the Manchester-based law firm decided to start raising money to buy iPads and tablets for hospitals, to allow patients to keep in contact with family and friends on video calls after a ban on visitors to covid-19 wards.

Tragically the last time many relatives see their loved ones is when they are dropped at hospital or taken there by ambulance as patients are taken to sealed off coronavirus wards where visiting bans are in force.

Nurses had been helping using their phones to try and keep patients in touch with family and friends, but in some cases they are not able to help in time.

And with strict infection control some times this has not been possible.

In some tragic cases patients have died without seeing their relatives for a last time, something that staff of the firm wanted to change.

Nick Harris, Partner at Simpson Millar Solicitors, whose wife is working on a coronavirus ward, said his staff were touched by the distressing stories of Covid-19 patients isolated from the outside world.

So they joined forces with his covid-19 ward wife Leona and after launching the #staytogether campaign they have managed to buy dozens of  iPads after raising £30,000 in less than a week.

And are now hoping to get many more after launching an online fundraising page to raise a further £50,000.

Staff from the Royal Oldham hospital heard about the initiative and got in touch with the law firm and this week they have taken delivery of two brand new iPads to allow ward patients to keep in touch.

Sister hospitals the Fairfield in Bury and the Park House hospital acute wards - which treats patients with mental health issues and is part of North Manchester General Hospital in Crumpsall - have also been donated iPads.

Nick said: "I am very humbled to be involved  in this.

"I hope these iPads we have given the Royal Oldham  hospital and the Trust can make a real difference and help Oldham patients and their friends and family through this difficult time.

"My wife Leona works on a covid-19 ward and has seen the heartache first hand and other staff have family and friends have been affected by this virus and some have relatives on the frontline as well.

"So we all wanted to do our bit to help those in trouble to have contact with the outside world.

"This virus is going to be with us for a long time so we wanted to do some thing that can help long into the future.

"The staff at the firm have been brilliant as they have all come together to support this cause and raise money and the response has been incredible.

"Staff have been doing sponsored quizzes, hair shaves and even isolation marathons to raise money.

“Anyone admitted to hospital is immediately isolated and that isolation extends to their family who have no further contact, or very limited contact, with their loved ones to prevent further spread of the virus.

"Too often, people are dying without any family with them.

"We are leading a fundraising initiative to buy as many iPads and tablets as possible to help patients and families stay connected across Lancashire.

"Our staff want to raise as much money as possible to buy  as many tablets and iPads as we can and get them where they are needed most.

"It’s so important to help patients and their families have that time together. 

"I hope this can make a real difference and  bring comfort to those in need.

"The more we raise the more people we can help.

"Families are frantic with worry when they can’t see their relatives – it’s soul destroying.

"With a tablet, they can at least see each other.

"It’s so important to help our patients and their families have that time together.

"I hope this can make a real difference and help them through this difficult time."

As well as hospitals, the firm also plans to branch out and donate tablets to hospices if they have any spare tablets after they reach a further £50, 000 fundraising target online.

Nick added: "It’s great to see the people that I work with supporting the cause, and the more patients and families that we can help can only be a good thing.

"If hospitals want an iPad or tablet just contact us.”

To make a donation to the #staytogether campaign, click here

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