Family raise funds for iPads to thank King George nurses who kept them connected to dying mum

When beloved mother-of-three and grandmother-of-seven Helena Shears, 89, was dying with Covid-19 in King George Hospital, Ilford, it was the nurses who ensured her family felt connected with her in her in her final days.

Her daughter, Jennifer Riches, said: “They used their own iPhones to allow us to Facetime with her. We really felt we were imposing but they were brilliant.

“We spoke to her, we sang to her, showed her pictures and it really kept her spirits up. It helped us as being able to see and talk to her was a lifeline.”

Jennifer, of Benfleet, was so grateful to the nurses that after her mother died, she sent them specially made fabric hearts with chocolates to show her appreciation. It was then that she realised iPads could make a difference for other patients and their families by allowing them to keep in touch.

She set up a JustGiving page in her mum’s memory, which has already raised over £1,300. The family have so far delivered three iPads to King George Hospital, run by Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, and hope to be able to buy at least one more.

Jennifer, 57, added: “One thing that really made a difference to us was that the staff got us to send pictures and letters to mum which they put into a folder for her to read. She loved it so much she was reading it back to me. It was such a good idea.

“Mum was selfless until the end so we know she would be really pleased with what we’ve done – it’s what she would have done. We really hope it will help other families to feel as connected as we did.

“It was mainly our family and friends who have donated and it’s helped them too – many of them wanted to give to the NHS, and by donating to our appeal, they’ve been able to do so in a really meaningful way.”

Mick Ferris

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