‘Caring’ Ysbyty Gwynedd nurse helped granddaughter say final goodbye to grandad through virtual call

A student nurse has been praised for her care and compassion after she set up a virtual phone call to allow a granddaughter to say goodbye to her grandad.

John Jenkins, from Llanerchymedd on Anglesey, became unwell not long after his 94th birthday towards the end of December.

He was sadly diagnosed with COVID-19 and was receiving care on Aran Ward in Ysbyty Gwynedd. 

His family received the devastating news that it was unlikely he would recover from his illness, but due to the visiting restrictions in place at the hospital, they were unable to visit him to say goodbye.

His granddaughter, Rachel Hatt, said her family were devastated by the news that her grandfather was unlikely to recover from the disease.

She said: “It is really hard for all families who have loved ones in hospital at the moment as no one can visit like they normally would, which is understandable as we know it is to keep everyone safe.

 “We knew my grandad wasn’t going to get any better but I still really wanted to see him and speak to him.

“I tried his phone to see if he would answer and when it connected I heard a lovely little voice on the other end.”

John’s phone had been answered by Bangor University student nurse, Abby Smith, who joined Aran Ward on placement on 30 December 2020.

After providing an update on John’s care, Abby then suggested to she set up a video call so that Rachel could see her grandad.

 “I was quite blown away by her friendly nature and she described to me exactly what was happening with my grandad and explained that he was about to receive sedation.

“She talked me through the procedure and then all of a sudden she turned the phone round and I got to have my last conversation with him.

“I could clearly see the love and care Abby and the staff were providing my Grandad and it made me feel so reassured he was in the best of hands and not alone.

“I cannot thank Abby enough for what she did that day, she took time out of her hectic day to answer the phone, she didn’t have to, I know how busy she must have been.

“I will be forever grateful to her for setting up that call so I could see my lovely grandad for the last time,” added Rachel.

John passed away that evening on the 26 January, a few hours after the video call with his granddaughter.

Abby, who started her Nursing degree in 2019 at Bangor University, is now in her second year, is also a volunteer Community First Responder for the Welsh Ambulance Service.

She said: “Rachel’s words blow me away and they will stay with me forever.

“Being a student in these trying times isn’t without its challenges, but Rachel has brought back into focus just why we chose this career.

“Aran is like no other ward I have ever been on. It is fast paced, physically and emotionally exhausting but the staff are by far some of the most incredible people I have ever met.

“Their level of care and compassion they show each patient every day is second to none.

“This story is only a glimpse of what these members of staff have been doing for the best part of a year, and I feel truly privileged to have been able to work alongside them.”

Lesley Walsh, Nursing Director at Ysbyty Gwynedd, said nurses have gone above and beyond in their roles during the pandemic to ensure there is a continuous link with patients and their families.

She said: “In the last year the COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on us all, and we are extremely grateful to our highly skilled nurses who have gone above and beyond for our patients and their families.

“Their extraordinary hard work, dedication and commitment have helped us through this exceptional time. 

“Our student nurses, such as Abby, have really stepped up to support their fellow nursing colleagues and provide first class care for their patients.”

Lynne Williams, Head of Bangor University’s School of Health Science added: “We are so proud of the compassion and commitment to supporting patients and their families shown by all our students who have contributed to  the health workforce during this challenging period. 

“Abby displayed the person centred care element, kindness and compassion which are emphasised throughout the Bangor nursing degree programme and I’m pleased that she found the appreciation re-energising. We can only add our own thanks to Abby and all our fantastic students.”

Publication date: 18 February 2021