The Wells Community Hospital Trust is a local charity that provides a range of accessible, flexible, integrated health and wellbeing services to the communities of West & North Norfolk coastal villages and towns. It receives no funding from the NHS.
Along with attending to physical health, such as dental and hearing, the hospital also extends to social and emotional care, including bereavement support and counselling. It also runs community events such as bingo, craft fairs and meeting groups. All of this activity was disrupted by the pandemic.
With so many vital services moving online, staff at the Community Hospital identified a need for digital provision within their community. North Norfolk’s population is older than the national average, and are therefore more likely to suffer from digital exclusion. The Hospital successfully applied for funding from the Norfolk Community Foundation to create a Digital Support Hub to address this problem within their community. A room within the hospital was selected as the location, and the hub was quickly established. It was refurbished and equipped with a multi-monitor computer set up to enable relatives to ‘attend’ appointments with the person. The funding also stretched to cover staffing costs to make the hub available for longer hours.
As restrictions have relaxed, the room has been equipped with soft furnishings for a less ‘clinical’ feel. A psychotherapist has also been using the hub to conduct her sessions, as has a trainee social worker. Both of them praised the hub’s comfortable multi-use function as both an in-person and online meeting place.
So far, the Hub has helped over 100 people to remotely access hospital appointments, contact family far away, and attend social groups via Zoom. As the service is based within the Hospital, users have been able to keep in touch digitally without them worrying about how to use the technology.