Page updated 8 May 2013 (Visitors section)
Your stay in hospital
The Trust considers the privacy and dignity for patients as very important for their well-being. Most wards are divided into men-only and women-only bays. While we may have men and women on a single ward the policy is that bays are not mixed and that toilet and washing facilities are designated separately.
But certain specialist wards, such as the Emergency Assessment Unit or the Coronary Care Unit, treat men and women in the same area. Please telephone the number on your appointment letter before you come in if this is a problem for you. Please note that sometimes it may be necessary to move you to another bed or ward to give you more appropriate care for a patient's individual needs. We will keep patients and relatives informed if this is necessary.
This person will be in charge of all your nursing care. When they are off-duty an associate nurse will care for you. The partnership between you and that named nurse (or midwife) will continue throughout your stay, unless you are moved to a different ward in which case you will have another named nurse. You can talk to this person about your care and he or she will always discuss any changes in your care with you first. He or she will discuss your care and progress with your family or relatives only if you agree. He or she is also responsible for planning your discharge from hospital and will discuss the arrangements with you at the appropriate time.
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Our hospitals are training centres for the next generation of doctors, nurses, midwives and other healthcare staff. An essential part of staff training is working with patients. To help them learn the skills they need cadet nurses, student nurses, or student midwives will carry out some aspects of your care under the supervision of a qualified nurse or midwife. Medical students accompany the consultant on his or her ward rounds and may wish to examine you or talk to you about your medical condition. The students appreciate your co-operation but you are under no obligation. If you do not wish to have the students present please tell a member of the staff.
Everyone has spiritual needs whether or not they have a religious belief. Our aim is to provide for the spiritual care of patients, relatives and staff. Coming into hospital can be a difficult experience. We would all like to help make your stay as easy as possible. We believe that everyone has spiritual needs, whether or not they have a religious faith. We want to provide for your spiritual care, which could include:
- helping to reduce stress or anxiety
- listening or counselling
- sympathy and understanding
- support for relatives and staff
- simply being with you
- exploring such issues as "Why me?" and "Why now?"
For some people spirituality is expressed in a religious way. Members of the chaplaincy team are available if you need:
- a visit from your own faith community
- Holy Communion
- Halal or Kosher food
- to talk about your faith
We have a small team of chaplaincy volunteers who visit all the wards regularly, usually on a particular day each week. They represent the chaplaincy team and are trained to visit patients in a sensitive and appropriate way to listen and to offer pastoral support (see 'Our staff' above). All hospital staff, including the chaplaincy team, are bound by strict confidentiality rules. There is a Hospital Chaplaincy leaflet here and available on the wards; just ask a member of staff.
Your social care
If you have a personal worry or concern please talk to your 'named nurse' (or 'named midwife'). The hospital can give you details on a wide range of voluntary and advisory services if you need them. If you are concerned about your home circumstances you may like to see one of the hospital social workers about it. Ask a member of the nursing staff.
Please make arrangements for a friend or relative to deal with your personal laundry as it is advisable to have an adequate supply of clean day and night wear.
Your nutritional needs will be catered for as part of your medical care. Good nutrition will aid your recovery. During your stay you will be served three light meals a day, usually between the following times:
- Breakfast: 8:00am-8:45am
- Lunch: 12.30pm-1.30pm
- Supper: 5.30pm-6.30pm
The hospital has adopted a protected mealtimes policy. This means there will be no clinical staff visiting your ward during lunch or supper (unless in an emergency). This ensures you will have your meal without interruption. There is a set menu but you will have a choice of vegetarian or meat. On your admission day, and in some other circumstances, it may not be possible to offer you a choice. Please tell the ward staff if you are served an unsuitable meal. Some wards have drink-dispensing machines or vending machines if you want a hot drink. Alternatively, you could ask a member of staff. Some patients who require extra input for other nutritional, medical, religious or cultural reasons may be referred to a hospital dietitian.
- Special diets. Please ask your 'named nurse' (or 'named midwife') if you have a special diet, as kosher or halal dishes, vegetarian or diabetic meals can be ordered as soon as you are settled on the ward.
- If you miss a meal. Remind the ward staff if you have missed a meal (for example, by having an x-ray away from the ward) and they will provide you with a snack.
- Bringing food in. Please ask staff before anyone brings in food as there are particular health and safety regulations that we have to comply with.
- Refreshments for visitors. Some wards have drink-dispensing machines or vending machines that visitors can use. Or they can use the hospital's Restaurant which is open during the day.
At the side of your bed is a Hospedia bedside entertainment system with a telephone, radio, television and computer link. To watch TV or make a phonecall you will need to purchase a Hospedia payment card from the yellow machines on your ward or in the hospital corridors. Cards are priced £3.50, £5 or £10 each. You pay around £3 for a day's hire of the bedside entertainment system. For that you get free television, free phone calls*, free internet, free games, free radio. You may wish to bring your own headphones with you. Radio can be listened to on the Hospedia system for free at any time. Call Hospedia freephone 0845 414 1234 or press the green 'operator' button on the Hospedia telephone handset for more help or credit card payment. Or visit www.hospedia.co.uk
* The offer only includes calls from the bedside unit to UK landlines (starting 01 or 02). Calls to mobiles, international destinations, and other networks are not included.
Please note that mobile phones can cause problems to sensitive medical equipment in certain areas of the hospital. Please follow the warning signs which indicate where they can be used. You can receive phonecalls from your friends and family on the Hospedia system, although these calls are premium rate. There are reduced rates for the children's wards.
Our Hospital Radio service broadcasts music, information, sport, entertainment and requests specifically for patients in Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital, 24 hours a day. Why not ask for a request for your friend or relative in hospital? Call 01206 756400 (answer phone). Or email: email@example.com
Most wards have a day room with a television and many also have video recorders, tapes and games. You can sit in here with your visitors, depending on your health condition and subject to staff approval.
So we can allow proper time for cleaning, ward rounds, patients' rest and undisturbed mealtimes, there are set visiting times. Outside these hours visiting is only possible if agreed with the senior nurse-in-charge or midwife.
Visitors should check with the ward before visiting: Colchester General Hospital phone numbers and Essex County Hospital phone numbers. All wards have protected mealtimes as well, to ensure that all non-essential activities cease - including visiting - allowing nurses more time to assist patients.
As a general rule, we advise visitors not to bring very young children or babies with them - except for their immediate family - as they are especially vulnerable to picking up infections. Children also easily become bored and fretful.
Ideally there will be no more than two visitors per patient in any ward (plus a carer if there is one) at any time to reduce noise and disturbance to other patients.
If you are due to have an operation or investigation, please ask your visitors to phone the ward before they set off so staff can tell them if you are well enough to see them.
To prevent cross-infection all visitors and staff should rub their hands with alcohol-gel before entering or leaving the ward. Please do not visit if you have an infection, such as a common cold, as this may create an additional risk for patients. If you have had diarrhoea and/or vomiting in the past 72 hours, please check with the ward before you visit.
Family and friends wishing to enquire about your progress are asked to phone the Colchester General Hospital wards and Essex County Hospital wards. To make it easier for staff, try and nominate one member of the immediate family to make enquiries about your progress. Ward staff will ask you to give your consent to sharing information about your progress with a named person - your next of kin, or a carer or friend. For confidentiality reasons staff can only give limited information to callers.
Essex County Hospital visiting times
12 midday to 8pm. Outside of these times at the Ward Sister's discretion
Colchester General Hospital visiting times
3pm to 5pm
6.30pm to 8pm.
Emergency Assessment Unit (EAU) and the maternity ward visiting times
Visiting times are set out by the ward sister to reflect the special needs of these patients.
Critical Care visiting times
8am to 12 midday
3pm to 8pm.
Also at the discretion of the co-ordinator outside of these times for extenuating circumstances.
Children's Ward and Neonatal Unit (Special Care Baby Unit or SCBU) visiting times
Parents or carers have open access. The only children allowed to visit are siblings, although at the discretion of ward sister other children may be allowed. For all other visitors to the Children's Ward, visiting times are 3pm to 7pm. For all other adult visitors to the Neonatal Unit, visiting times are 3pm to 5pm. Accommodation for parents can be provided if their child needs to stay overnight. Just ask the ward team.
See our FAQs on Flowers.
You will be asked to wear an wristband while you are in hospital which contains information to help staff identify you correctly and to enhance your safety whilst undergoing treatment. Staff will ask you to tell them that your name is and what your date of birth is. This is another means of double-checking your identity to ensure that you receive the correct treatment.
It would be helpful for the staff looking after you during your stay to have prior knowledge of any allergy you may suffer with. This would include allergies to food, dust, latex, plasters etc, not just medication.
Not all patients are mobile or have visitors to help them with shopping requirements. The library trolley, newspaper trolley and League of Friends trolley provide a varied selection of snacks, drinks, newspapers and small items for personal hygiene. A trolley visits every ward most mornings.
All staff wear an identity badge with their name and photograph on it. Do not allow anyone without one to do anything to you or to your property. If you see anyone behaving in a suspicious manner please tell any member of staff. A wide range of security measures are in force at the hospital for your safety and protection including 24-hour video surveillance cameras. All wards have security doors with buzzer intercoms for access. Visitors must not allow entry to anyone they do not know. Doors must be shut firmly behind them to prevent anyone gaining unauthorised access to an area.
The Trust is committed to providing a safe and secure working environment, free of violence and aggression. It whole-heartedly supports the Government's zero-tolerance campaign and will not accept any act of violence or aggression towards any member of its staff. Incidents of verbal or physical abuse, threats or assaults will be dealt with by calling the security officer, or police if necessary and the Trust will instigate prosecution proceedings if appropriate.