ONE of Ireland's largest hospices has issued a special appeal for iPads and tablets to allow 'cocooned' patients enjoy virtual visits with their loved ones during the virus pandemic.
Marymount Hospice in Cork, which was founded in 1870, ranks as one of Ireland's biggest palliative care centres.
It offers 44 specialist palliative care beds and 63 elderly care beds.
The Curraheen-based facility said it hoped the iPads and tablets would make life easier for patients who have been hit by visitor restrictions which were imposed on health and safety grounds because of Covid-19.
"Without the normal face-to-face interactions with their loved ones our patients understandably may feel a little lost without their trusted partner, siblings, sons, daughters and friends - the people who are their guardians and protectors in their time of need," a Marymount spokesperson said.
Marymount explained that one 94 year-old patient called John (not his real name) had not been able to see his family for a month because of the Covid-19 precautionary measures.
“Four weeks ago John brought his 87 year-old wife, Nora (not her real name) a cup of tea in bed like any other day. Later that day his doctor advised John that he needed to be admitted to an acute Cork hospital due to increasingly severe pains. The following day he was admitted.
"Nora and his daughter and every other family member have been unable to physically see John since the day he was admitted four weeks ago.
"It was four days before they could even hear his voice using his first mobile phone that Mary left in the hospital reception for his use. While John is thankfully not suffering from Covid-19, the current precautions are having a huge impact on him and his family."
However, John's mood was transformed when his daughter brought an iPad to the facility - and he has been able to enjoy face-to-face virtual chats with his loved ones daily.
Family members have also been able to get daily updates on his medical care.
"Earlier this week one of our pastoral care team spotted an iPad that had been delivered for his attention with instructions from his daughter Mary. Together they set it up and within 10 minutes John was able to facetime his daughter and then his wife Nora.
"It was a wonderfully emotional moment as they spoke and laughed face to face for the first time in a month - catching up on the news, sharing jokes, singing songs, bemoaning the lack of hairdressing facilities and just connecting."
Marymount purchased two designated ward iPads and they have also received five donated iPads - but such is the demand for them and the restrictions because of infection control, patients have lengthy waits to use them.
The facility now hopes to be able to offer an iPad or tablet in every room so that 'virtual visits' are possible for everyone every day.
"If you would like to support us in any way in helping us to open up connections between our patients and their families – we are very gratefully accepting donations of tablets and iPads."