Northern Ireland

Craigavon Area Hospital uses humour to deliver serious message

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Media captionMa, Da and Cal add some humour to a serious message about hospital visiting

For many patients, visitors are a welcome sight on wards across Northern Ireland but for hospital authorities they can cause headaches.

In an attempt to raise awareness of the protocol visitors should follow when visiting loved ones, Craigavon Area Hospital has released a video to increase public awareness of the do's and don'ts.

Its release comes after the hospital had to cancel all non-emergency inpatient surgeries at the hospital on Thursday for a second day running due to norovirus.

They enlisted Ma, Da and Cal from Give My Head Peace to add some humour to a serious message.

In a series of sketches, Ma, who is sick in bed in hospital, receives visits from her devoted husband, Da, and her son, Cal.

Each sketch tackles a different issue, such as visitors who are not well coming to see patients in hospital or bringing hot food and flowers in for patients.

Image copyright Southern Health Trust
Image caption Ma, Da and Cal add some humour to a serious message

Humour

The 'Respect our Rules' campaign features four areas of awareness for visitors.

The chief executive of the Southern Health Trust, Francis Rice, said the hospital had decided to deliver a serious message in a humorous way through online and social media.

"We regularly appeal to people coming to our hospitals to respect visiting rules," she said.

Image copyright Southern Health Trust
Image caption Ma is the long-suffering wife and mother of Da and Cal

"The winter vomiting bug is no laughing matter and it's widespread in our communities at the minute. People visiting hospital can carry the bug in and pass it on to our patients.

"So we hope this new campaign will explain how everyone can help us stop the spread of the virus."

The trust's medical director, Dr Richard Wright, said it was vital that hospital visiting rules were followed.

'Contagious'

"Visitors are always very welcome to our hospitals and having visitors can help with patient recovery and wellbeing," he said.

"However, patients in hospital are often more vulnerable to infection and that's why it's so important that visitors do not come if they (or anybody at home) have any symptoms that could be contagious.

"Such symptoms include a cough, runny nose, rash, vomiting or diarrhoea.

"One cause of infection outbreaks on wards is visitors carrying infections in during visits.

Image copyright Southern Health Trust
Image caption In this sketch, Da and Cal exceed the number of visitors allowed onto wards

"It is really important that everybody cleans their hands using soap and water, or alcohol hand rubs when they enter or leave a ward or other areas of the hospital.

"Sick patients often get tired very quickly and need plenty of time to rest and recuperate so the number of visitors each patient has should be restricted to a maximum of two at a time."

Dr Lorraine Doherty from the Public Health Agency said the same rules applied when visiting people in nursing and residential homes or attending other healthcare facilities such as doctor's surgeries.

"It's not unusual to see an increase in the winter vomiting and diarrhoea virus at this time of year, so we are urging people to take extra care with hand hygiene and, if you have the illness, take simple steps to prevent the spread," she added.

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