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Staying on contact wherever you are...

In October 2019, Trinity Hospice in Blackpool with Clifton Hospital, part of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, won the Technology in Nursing award in the Nursing Times. They won it because of its simplicity and its transferablity to any other part of the healthcare system.

With COVID restrictions, being able to keep in contact with family and friends, or other members of the multisciplinary team is especially vital. The restrictions put in place for everyone’s safety means that people in care and nursing homes, or hospitals or hospices will not have visits from family and friends. And as most hospitals have stopped visiting, so people now need to use virtual solutions to keep in touch.

What are the solutions?

There are numerous solutions to help clinical staff communicate with others outside their organisation (including helping patients see their relatives at home).

The essentials for any of these are:

  • having reliable quality wifi
  • and a device that has a front facing camera
  • and built in microphone, that could be a smartphone, and most tablets even basic ones, will have that.

The solutions I think can be applied easily are free, or have free options with limitations, but for most entities they would be fine.

Most are easy to use but they do vary in their complexity and requirements.


Whereby is my favourite, simple because it’s light and you don’t need to download anything.Yu create an account and that becomes your link name

All you need is a link (so could be your name) or name of unit.

Once the person has that link they can join the room when active.

So you control when the room is available, and you have an option to ensure the person calling ‘knocks’.


  • Free option
  • Simplest to use (just need to set up an account)
  • No downloads needed
  • Name your room so it’s unique
  • Can have up to 4 people in the chat
  • Share screens, so documents or images
  • Ideal for small units keepin in contact with larger ones not using NHS TEAMS
  • Can be used by NHS out to smaller units
  • Secure


  • Limits to only 4 users (if you need more see ZOOM – next) or upgrade
  • No online support (unless you upgrade) but to be honest not needed, because its so easy to use


Zoom A more professional product, that comes both as Free and premium plans; it is aimed at businesses, but very useful for social groups too beacause of the number of people it can host at one time up to 100.

I use it for meetings for more than 5 people and it is of high quality.

You do need to download softare but thats to have the meeting generated and then you can send a link. Compatibale with most devices to download.




  • 40 mins limit on group meetings (although this mabe changed in line when China went COVID they removed this restriction temporarily) but it currently still in place as of today.
  • To manage meetings properly, you need to download software (but only once)


Skype is the grand daddy of them all. It’s a combination of the above, in that it is aimed at both personal and business level. It is still popular but has limitations.

You need to have it installed on both devices, so this can be restrictive for some people/organisations.


  • Popular and established product
  • Secure
  • Free
  • Named account so person knows who its from
  • Web Conferencing Features


  • Needs to be installed on both the sending and receiving device
  • Not the most user friendly for less technically aware

NHS (Microsoft) Teams

Provided free to the NHS as a collaboration product. Uses mainly in business very useful in projects.


There are many other ‘personal’ type video-calling such as Whatsapp / Facetime etc… these are equally useful, and many patients will use these to connect to their relatives.

You need to have it installed on both devices, so this can be restrictive for some people/organisations.

Safety and other important information

NHSX have allowed through this period, for people in health and social care to use the apps they feel appropriate to support safe care delivery.

Whichever app you use, you must ensure patient confidentiality at all times, so, ensure the person you are connecting to is someone you know as a relative or a colleague in the NHS before sharing confidential information.

Needing help or advice?

I recognise that not everyone is digitally savvy. So, if you need advice, send me an email below with a contact number (not a mobile) and I can help you set up over the phone, or demonstrate.

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