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New study to enhance the impact of technologies for hospice residents

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The OU Rapid Response to COVID-19 funding scheme has made it possible to enhance the use of technologies in a hospice during the pandemic.

Led by Dr Verina Waights, Senior Lecturer in Professional Healthcare Education in the OU’s Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, the project has received just over £30,000 to work with Willen Hospice to pilot and evaluate the use of digital technologies to enhance communications for service users and their families during COVID-19.

Dr Waights said: “Our project seeks to provide more opportunities for users to connect with the Willen at Home service during these COVID-19 measures, and for use in practitioner assessments and in supporting bereaved families.”

The project will explore staff, community service users and their families’ experiences of the COVID-19 measures through questionnaires and semi-structured interviews (using a variety of methods to maintain social distancing) and develop digital enhancements to the service through online co-production workshops with representatives of these groups. The enhancements will be piloted by service users, families, carers and staff.

Mrs Peta Wilkinson, CEO of Willen Hospice commented: “Willen Hospice is delighted to be part of this important piece of research, which will support our teams, and patients and families to receive the best possible care despite the restrictions being imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Open University is a valued partner and we appreciate their support in exploring how best to support people in these unprecedented times.”

Findings from the pilot, which are due in August 2021, will be used to help enhance Willen Hospice services in future. The findings will be disseminated widely to provide an evidence-base for other hospices to improve their services.

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