Technology is helping hospice patients to stay in touch

Categories: Care.

Accessing services can be a stressful experience for some people and so to reduce the burden, St Nicholas Hospice Care has launched a new way for patients and families to get in touch. 

This week, First Contact – the hospice’s team for newly referred patients – is holding its first live video link and web-chat sessions, to help make the hospice more accessible and to offer an alternative to traditional telephone contact.

Jane Wythe, St Nicholas Hospice Care First Contact clinical nurse specialist, said: “Seeing the nurse that you are talking to can be beneficial for some people. Or, if they prefer typing to speaking to someone, they can type out messages in a live web-chat session.

“We hope these new ways of contacting the First Contact team will make it easier for some people, and help us to guide them through their first steps with the Hospice.”

Using Skype

The video link and web-chat services are available through Skype – a free internet-based system which enables people to see and talk to other people anywhere in the world as long as they have a camera on their computer and a reasonable internet connection.

Members of St Nicholas Hospice First Contact team will be available for video and web-chats every Wednesday afternoon, from 2-3pm.

Patients, family members and friends can book a session online at The hospice’s Skype username is: stnicholashospicecare

The First Contact team can still be contacted via telephone on 01284 766133, or email

Eye Gaze technology

The children at Demelza Children’s Hospice in Sittingbourne, Kent, are also benefiting from some of the latest technology.

The national children’s hospice charity, Lifelites, recently unveiled a technology project at the hospice, providing patients and their families with state-of-the-art touchscreen technology, the latest gaming consoles and specially adapted iPads to accommodate a range of needs. 

The hospice are also eagerly awaiting their delivery of the Eye Gaze; a machine that works by tracking the movement of the user’s eye, enabling children with little or no movement to access technology and communicate.

Liz Haigh-Reeve, Director of Income Generation at the hospice, said: “This technology not only enables the children to enjoy the games and entertainment systems but also to communicate with their friends and family and even other children who face similar challenges. 

“When so much in their lives is different to their peers, technology empowers them to do the things all children and young people enjoy. The portable aspect of the iPads means that DVDs and games can be brought to a child if they are too sick to leave their room. The Lifelites project will make such a difference.”

ehospice will be catching up with Demelza Children’s Hospice once the Eye Gaze machine is in place to see how the children are benefiting from the new technology.

In the media

Using technology to aid health services has also been highlighted in the national media this week. An article in The Guardian considered; ‘how technology can help people with long-term conditions in rural areas.’

Writing for the publication, Angela Single, BT’s global health director was keen to stress the importance of :

“The current model of health and care is unsustainable – ageing populations, increasing demand and financial pressures mean that radical transformation is required. Faced with these pressures, the answer is not to do less, but to do things differently.

“Through technology, we can put the power where it needs to be – in the hands of the patients who are the consumers and users of health and care services. Future generations of patients will expect technology to support their health and wellbeing as much as they already expect it to support them at home, at work and in education.”

Are you using technology to help communication within hospice or palliative care? Get in touch with ehospice and share your story.

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