Wells Community Hospital

A gravel path leads to two sets of buildings. One is a flint structure, and the other is a series of summer houses. The sun is shining

Digital Support Hub

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.

Two women sit facing eachother in comfy blue chairs. A two-monitor computer set up sits between them.
The Support Hub

The Wells Support Hub

Two chairs and a desk with computers.

“During the recent restrictions we have been running the Local support hub from the hospital site. Part of this has been mobilising our volunteers to assist with requests. Normally we would hold monthly volunteer meetings onsite but had to move virtually. This has enabled us to keep in touch with our team of volunteers during the restrictions. The digital hub has proved invaluable as it is a private space where complex issues can be discussed. The ability to gather a group of people together on a video chat also helped with the feelings of isolation some of our volunteers were feeling. Having been used to meeting regularly together, seeing each other on a video call helped maintain enthusiasms for volunteering and the feeling of collective support. As part of this, we also hosted virtual social events for our volunteers, which included a virtual carol service and Christmas Party.

With the ability now for our volunteers to meet physically and many of the support groups they are involved in looking to start up later this year, the experiences of the digital hub will be championed to these groups service users. Already planned for early September is an afternoon of demonstration of the space and facilities for the Wells Nelson Club, a support club for elderly, isolated and physically impaired.”

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