A SCHEME launched by a nurse a law firm to get iPads onto hospital wards to help relatives give the patients a “virtual hug” has been backed by a string of celebrities.
BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker, Hollyoaks actress Amanda Clapham and popstar Ariana Grande all lent their social media support to the initiative, which has helped dozens of patients in Rotherham Hospital to keep in touch with relatives.
Bury-based Leona Harris started the #staytogether campaign after witnessing distressing scenes in isolation wards where patients are cut off from friends and family and could need meet face-to-face.
She wanted to use technology to get sick patients back in touch with relatives and came up with the idea of buying iPads.
Leona joined forces with Yorkshire based law firm Simpson Millar solicitors and raised over £70, 000 to fund the hospital-based iPads for hospital wards - and now wants to raise a further £50,000.
Staff from Rotherham Hospital heard about the initiative on social media and got in touch with the law firm to help them connect sick patients affected by ongoing visiting restrictions across the hospital.
Leona said: “I am very humbled to be involved with this campaign and very gratefully all the support from the celebrities, the public and other nurses and healthcare staff.
“I am just one of many health professionals on the frontline but hopefully these will be a massive help.
“I have been inundated with requests for tablets and iPads from nurses on social media.
“There is still a massive need for these iPads and tablets now and in the future across different wards.
“They will be a huge help going forward as isolation on certain wards remain in place.
“I have seen first hand the effect of patients having no contact with their families.
“Due to infection control, these are very restricted areas and the last thing patients think of when they come in to hospital very poorly is to bring iPads or tablets with them and many don't have them anyway.
“So I wanted to find a way to get them in contact fast and video calls was the answer.
“It's like a virtual hug for the patient and the family and gives them a real boost.
“I am dealing with nurses on wards direct to get tablets where they are needed the most.
"If we can boost patients morale, it can aid their recovery and seeing family and friends even if it is just on screen, really helps their mental health.”
Leona’s husband Nick, a partner at Simpson Millar, said: "The more funds we a raise the more patients and their families that we can help which can only be a good thing.
“If hospitals want an iPad or tablet, just contact my wife Leona.”
Visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/staytogether to make a donation to the #staytogether campaign.