How NHS staff are supporting frontline colleagues fighting Coronavirus
To support colleagues on the frontline tackling the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds of staff across Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust have temporarily moved to new roles.
Over the past six weeks 354 clinical colleagues, along with 68 non clinical staff, across Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) have temporarily moved to new roles to help ease pressures brought on by Covid-19 demand.
School nurses have undergone additional training and are now helping to look after elderly and frail patients in their homes. There are also instances of staff moving from office admin based roles to become a healthcare assistants, if they have had previous experience. A market and information analyst joining a hospital catering team and community dietitians are moving into acute hospitals to work with intensive care patients, to make sure dietary needs are met while patients are ventilated.
Health visitors, have continued to ensure families are receiving the support they need, using virtual appointments and phone calls to maintain contact. Health visitors have also moved into teams that support adult patients.
Some staff, who might not consider themselves tech savvy, are now providing admin support to the trust’s IT Team, which has seen large increases in activity, with people working from home to support essential services
Natalie Parkinson, Assistant Director of Business Development and Service Improvement, who is leading on temporary moves across the trust, said: “Our colleagues have been temporarily moved to support those working in our community hospitals and in our minor injury units – as well as our teams working in community nursing, rapid response, intermediate care, home with support, frailty, rapid transfer, assessment beds and facilities.
“We have colleagues who have also temporarily left their normal roles to help with pharmacy deliveries, distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and with infection prevention and control. Others have taken up new admin roles to help support those working on the frontline.
“I am very proud of what people have done, in terms of stepping into unfamiliar roles and doing that with a shared purpose of caring for people and wanting to support their colleagues.”
Lisa Burn has been a nurse for 30 years – and never thought she’d have to put her hairdressing skills to the test. Lisa is normally a school nurse but was asked to work on the Heron Ward at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Herne Bay, as she has 24 years of hospital nursing experience behind her.
A keen advocate for mental wellbeing, she wanted to do something to help older female patients who told her they were missing their regular trips to a hair salon – and so she decided to take some curling tongs and dry shampoo with her to work.
“A lot of the patients on the ward are older ladies, who are missing their regular trips to the hairdresser, which always makes them feel better,” said Lisa, “so we decided that we could do their hair for them, where this was possible.
“We need to remember this is very difficult time for patients. They have no visitors. We’re helping by doing the little things that matter to them. We’re helping them keep in touch with their families, but doing things like making sure they’re phones are charged.”
Yiannis Christodoulou is a Market and Information Analyst, who is normally based at a Kent Community Health Foundation Trust office in Ashford.
He has been working in the kitchen at one of the Trust’s community hospitals, after undergoing training, helping to prepare food for patients, doctors, nurses and other healthcare colleagues.
He said: “I knew I had to help our frontline colleagues. I like a challenge and wanted to help to beat this, which we are going to, but we must do it together and that means doing things that are outside daily procedures and comfort zones.
“We are all working hard to beat this and I am very proud of all my colleagues fighting this – I am proud to work for the NHS.”
Helen Knope is a Patient Experience Manager, normally sat at a desk reviewing patient feedback in an office in Ashford. She joined the Personal Protective Equipment Service Team, where she welcomes delivery drivers, helps unload deliveries and sorts orders.
Charlie Palmer is a health visitor who has temporarily moved to help support the Rapid Transfer Service at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (QEQM) in Margate, as an Interim Discharge Co-ordinator.
She normally works in the community to support families, but is now working with adult patients who are ready to leave the QEQM, but might need further support.
She said: “When I heard colleagues were being temporarily moved, I said I was happy to volunteer by services. I felt maybe my skill set could be used somewhere else.
“Back when I was a student nurse, I was regularly dropped into foreign environments and had to ask lots of questions and ask for support. So it’s not something which is new to nurses.
“I’m used to doing assessments and using my communication skills. In my new temporary role, I’m communicating with lots of different people.
“I’m seeing patients at the QEQM, where it’s safe to do so and chatting to them, their families, ward staff, nurses and therapists, to see where the patient is at. The little bit of anxiety I had at the beginning has completely gone. It’s been a positive experience.”