I wrote a couple of weeks ago about my neighbour who has been in hospital for a heart operation.  I am pleased to say she is making good progress and we’re expecting her home in the next day or so.

 

In fact, she has been in three different hospitals.  The first was in Central London.  She then moved to Harefield and finally to a local hospital in Hertfordshire.

 

It has been interesting for her (and those of us who have visited her) to compare the hospitals.   The truth is that all three have provided a very good level of hospital care, and we must be grateful to them for that.

 

As I’ve mentioned before, my interest in hospitals stems from the fact that we run A Friend in Need, a website sending gifts to people in hospital on behalf of friends and family who can’t visit the patient in person. 

 

The different attitudes to hospital gifts, and especially flowers, were therefore particularly interesting.  One hospital did not allow fresh flowers at all and the other two clearly discouraged them.  This does seem very general now, and is one reason why we sell a lot of silk flower arrangements through A Friend in Need.

 

I think the first thing we’re going to do when our neighbour arrives home is buy her a bunch of fresh flowers!

I read with interest this week that hospitals are being advised not to over-dilute the cleaning materials they use.  The concern is that this could help bacteria develop a resistance to antibiotics.

 

What has given rise to the alert is a recent study in America.  This concluded that once bacteria survive contact with disinfectants – and they are more likely to survive if the disinfectant is diluted – they can evolve new defences.   In effect, they learn to pump the antibiotic out of their system.

 

My interest in hospital patients stems from the fact that we run A Friend in Need, a website sending gifts to people in hospital on behalf of friends and family who can’t visit the patient in person.

 

Let us hope that hospital follow the new guidelines and that, just as they have reduced the number of MRSA cases, they will successfully tackle the rise of antibiotic resistance.

We mentioned in last week’s blog that our neighbour is currently in hospital, recovering from a heart operation.  I’m pleased to report she is doing well.

 

She is lucky enough to have her own room in hospital.  Interestingly, the Tories have just announced at their conference that, if they are elected, they will create an extra 45,000 single rooms in hospitals by the end of their first term.  That sounds like an ambitious target – and apparently the cost would be around £1.5billion.

 

Visiting our neighbour reminded us how civilised it is to be in a single room – provided that’s what you want, of course.  We must not forget that many hospital patients prefer the companionship of a larger ward.

 

We run A Friend in Need, a website sending gifts to people in hospital on behalf of friends and family who can’t visit the patient in person.  If more patients do find themselves in single rooms in future, and so have less contact with other patients, perhaps they will be even more demand for gifts from the outside world.

We are learning this week what it’s like to be one of our customers.

 

We run A Friend in Need, a website sending gifts to people in hospital on behalf of friends and family who can’t visit the patient in person.

 

Our next-door neighbour, who is also a dear friend, has gone into hospital to have two replacement valves fitted in her heart.  She was operated on yesterday and is now in Intensive Care.  The hospital is a very good one but is in London.

 

We hope we’ll be able to visit her while she’s still in hospital, but it’s not an easy journey.  So, just in case we don’t make it to see her, we’re busy choosing a gift off the website that we can send her!

We took supply of a new consignment of teddy bears this week.  It’s always fun getting in new stock, but somehow cuddly toys are the most fun of all.

 

Because the manufacturers have slightly changed the design and appearance of the bears, we had a photo shoot of the new stock.  Well, it was a good excuse, because that’s actually where a lot of the fun comes in – positioning all the cuddly toys ready to have their pictures taken, finding their best angles and deciding on the most appealing shots.

 

The reason we do this is that we run A Friend in Need, a website sending gifts to people in hospital on behalf of friends and family who can’t visit the patient in person.  And among our most popular gifts are cuddly toys, and the most popular cuddly toy of all – perhaps not surprisingly – is the teddy bear, the perennial lucky mascot

 

Let’s hope visitors to the website will appreciate our photographic skills – and perhaps sense the fun we had taking the pictures!

I mentioned in the blog last week that the number of deaths in hospitals as a result of Clostridium difficile rose dramatically (by 28%) between 2006 and 2007.  Some people have pointed out, however, that I didn’t stress strongly enough that in the same period the number of deaths from the superbug MRSA actually fell.

 

The reduction wasn’t staggering – deaths fell from 1,652 in 2006 to 1,593 in 2007, a drop of around 3.5%.  But this was the first time that the number has fallen since records began in 1993, and it is therefore cause for optimism that hospitals are now seriously tackling the problem.

 

We’ve written before about MRSA and pointed to some of the precautions that hospital staff always take.  We’ve emphasised how important it is that visitors to hospitals realise that they too can spread MRSA – for instance if they don’t .wash their hands or rub them with alcohol gel before entering and after leaving a ward.  .

 

Our interest in this stems partly from the fact that we run A Friend in Need, a website sending gifts to people in hospital on behalf of friends and family who can’t visit the patient in person. 

 

Not visiting in person might be the surest way of not spreading MRSA, but we don’t seriously advocate that unless a friend or relative really can’t make the journey.  Sensible precautions are the answer, and it looks as though at long last the message is getting through to hospital visitors and the precautions are starting to have some effect.

You may have heard the news story this week that the number of deaths in hospitals as a result of Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) increased by 28% between 2006 and 2007.  The good news that accompanied this was that the number of deaths from MRSA fell slightly over the same period, but that does not mask the fact that a 28% rise in C. difficile deaths would appear to be cause for grave concern.

 

One explanation may be that C. difficile was reported more accurately in 2007 than in 2006.  It seems that the disease was often recorded as a contributing factor on death certificates.  This is borne out by the fact that there has actually been a reduction in the overall number of C, difficile cases (whether death resulted or not). 

 

We take a keen interest in all matters that affect the wellbeing of hospital patients, mainly because we run A Friend in Need, a website sending gifts to people in hospital on behalf of friends and family who can’t visit the patient in person. 

 

Let us hope that better recording is indeed the reason behind this worrying statistic, rather than a higher incidence of the disease itself.

It’s always nice when we receive requests from overseas customers to send gifts to hospital patients in the UK. 

 

We run a website sending gifts to people in hospital on behalf of friends and family who can’t visit the patient in person.  Most of our customers are within the UK who are unable visit the hospital.  This is usually because they live some distance away, though even when you live nearby it can often be difficult to make a visit while the patient is still in hospital.

 

In the case of overseas friends and relations, however, it is generally almost impossible to travel to the UK and visit the hospital.  And of course many of us do have friends or family abroad, often a long haul flight away on another continent.  This is where we like to think the service offered by our website can step in.

We’re constantly on the lookout for new products and new ideas for our online business.  We send gifts to people in hospital, or to people convalescing at home, on behalf of friends and family who unfortunately are not able to visit in person.

 

Our most popular lines are silk flower arrangements (partly because many wards don’t permit fresh flowers) and of course cuddly toys, though we do have a wide range of stock that includes puzzles, toiletries and even chocolates.

 

Most of the feedback we get, which generally is very positive, is about two things: how good the basic idea of a hospital gifts website is, and the standard of the service we provide. 

 

But we’re also very interested in knowing our customers’ views on the types of gift we keep in stock.  So if you have any good ideas about what people in hospital would like to receive from their loved ones, we’d be very pleased to hear from you.

We were interested to read this week that under new Government proposals hospitals that break hygiene rules could be fined – by up to £50,000.  The hope appears to be however that fining would be the very last resort, and that in most cases the NHS Trust involved would be able to work with the Care Quality Commission to resolve the problems.  (The Care Quality Commission is a new watchdog that will replace the existing Healthcare Commission in 2009.)

 

The fact is that rates of Clostridium difficile and MRSA have already dropped significantly – by something like a third in the past year – but it is important to make sure this level of improvement is sustained.

 

We take a keen interest in all matters that affect the wellbeing of hospital patients.  This stems from the fact that we run A Friend in Need, a website sending gifts to people in hospital on behalf of friends and family who can’t visit the patient in person. 

 

Let us hope therefore that the proposed fines never need to be applied.

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