I started working from home in March along with hundreds of other staff, with just a laptop at the dining room table.
I live with chronic pain, so I thought working from home would be really beneficial. Which it was, but sitting on a dining room chair for nine hours a day started to take its toll. I took for granted walking up the corridor, catching up with colleagues, moving around often which really helped with my pain management.
At the beginning was I really felt I wasn’t making a difference, when my friends and colleagues were working on the frontline.
I actively looked for ways to help. I spent some time ringing around to patients for Rheumatology changing their onsite appointments to telephone appointments. It was nice to speak to patients, putting their minds at rest that they were still going to be looked after, albeit not face to face. I also helped HR contacting staff working from home or shielding, along with my manager Jocelyn. Again, really nice to let staff know that they hadn’t been forgotten about and that the Trust valued them helping keep everyone safe by staying home.
This was the pick-me-up I needed, along with getting my office chair, a monitor and keyboard. This has made such a difference to my working life and managing my pain.
I am working harder, with less breaks and I have to be mindful about this to make sure I have a good balance. I will never complain about having to walk over to the NU building in the rain for a meeting again!
As a team, we work very closely in the office and have worked hard in ensuring this hasn’t been lost whilst working from home. I have a morning and afternoon catch up with my direct team, we then have a morning catch up with the whole team, all on MS Teams – we try and make these fun, even though we are busy. Socially, we have also ensured we have kept this up. We have a quiz night every Friday night via Zoom, which has been great fun, as well as other quizzes throughout the weeks.
I have been so proud of what the IM&T department have done to support the Trust, staff going above and beyond, ensuring that patients can be looked after safely, that Trust staff can still do their day-to-day work either onsite or at home.
Although myself, along with rest of The Digital Transformation Team, have been working from home, some of the team have still been active in the main hospital site:
- helping the Trust take account of the hardware across the whole of the estate
- tracking all the phones and updating the directory
- supporting our clinical staff in training of CPL on the wards
- supporting moves of departments such as ED Minors over to Nuffield
- calling our end users to check if their IT calls were still required to support the impact of COVID
- ensuring our teams across the Trust have everything they needed.
They have undertaken jobs and tasks which they wouldn’t normally do with positivity and modesty.
We have adapted quickly and some of us have had a few wobbles, but we have supported each other amazingly. We have even celebrated birthdays virtually and a lot of thought has gone into trying to make these unique and special for the person receiving their ‘virtual’ birthday card.
I feel incredibly lucky to be part of such a special, caring team.
Mechelle Rowe, IM&T Business Change Manager
My name is Monika Lear and I worked at Derriford Hospital for 17 years. In 2000 I started as a Health Care Assistant, got seconded and trained as a nurse. I qualified in 2005 and worked in HDU before transferring to Penrose. I relocated to the Freedom Unit in 2009 and eventually to the Satellite Dialysis Unit at Plymbridge Road, where I felt that I could increase my knowledge.
On retirement I had been asked if I would be able to help if there is a national problem….. Fast forward two and half years, and then I got the letter. My first instinct was to help, of course, but I also had to think about my husband, who is 73. We talked about it, and he highlighted that he is a very healthy 73 year old and not on any medication. Besides, if he could catch Corona, who would know where it is from? It could be from doing the shopping.
So I started the training all over again. There have been some changes, but I only left under three years ago, so it wasn’t difficult. It was more intense, more details, some I remembered well.
My contract was reviewed and I officially started on the 15th April 2020. My first call came on 05 May, to work on Stannon Ward. I enjoyed it. I enquired about the Dialysis Unit, as this was the place I last worked at and they were happy to have me back. So I decided to do two shifts on Stannon and two shifts at the Dialysis Unit. When Stannon transferred to Norfolk Ward they didn’t need the extra staff, so I’m now working three shifts a week at the Dialysis Unit. It all feels somehow surreal, like being on a very long holiday.
I know the rules, pattern and routine, at the Dialysis Unit, so there was not much training needed. Few things have changed and seeing some of the patients I knew is great. The staff have given me a warm welcome and supported me by giving me the training required, when it comes to line and prime the machines, needling, connecting and disconnecting the patients. I feel that I am helpful to them. To have a positive attitude is important. We will all get through this.
This redeployment has really opened my eyes to what my colleagues have had to deal with during these unprecedented times.
My normal role is as Resuscitation Officer but on the 23 March I was redeployed to the Norwich Union building to work with the Procurement Team working alongside Michelle Winfield, Clinical Procurement Specialist, who is also known as Chelley.
I met most of the other team on Zoom the next day, which was very alien to me.These are some of the people I’d like to give a huge shout out to as the teams to I have had the pleasure to work alongside with during COVID, all of whom gave me a warm welcome to their team.
In my normal role I had no real idea what processes were involved within this area. I thought, along with most people, you could just phone or email someone in Procurement/Supply Chain to ask for something and it would appear like magic. Well it doesn’t work like that!
Our colleagues have their work cut out. The process is lengthy in some cases but if something is required urgently the team will do their upmost to go above and beyond to get that item, whatever it may be. This is what I witnessed and was proud to be part of during COVID.
They have all worked tirelessly to ensure that the staff both at Derriford and Livewell have been protected with the most appropriate forms of PPE at all times.
I have really enjoyed my time working with the procurement team (especially Chelley, as we trained together 35 years ago) but I feel that everyone in all the teams deserve a mention for all their hard work behind the scenes to ensure a safe and appropriate environment for our colleagues.
I am returning to my Resuscitation role next week and will miss you all.
- Andy McMinn Chief Procurement Officer
- Donna Ellis Senior Category Buyer
- Peter Sewell Head of Supply Chain
- Chris Stevens, Category Manager
I have also had the pleasure of meeting and working with:
- Glen Grant. Supply Chain Manager
- Grahame Parry, Supply Chain/Genesis on Level 2 ,
- Chris Lund and team in Materials Management
- Paul Couch, Warehouse Manager, and all the team in the warehouse
- Paul Drummond, Procurement Lead at Livewell
…and not forgetting!
- Kathleen Harvey, Tash Moysey , Louise Sevestre, all Category Buyers
- Chris Butson and Matt Lyons Data Analysts.
A HUGE thank you to you all.
Ibreez and her husband, Ibrahim, are junior doctors training in internal medicine at University Hospitals Plymouth (UHP) NHS Trust. They are just two of the many international staff working here.
Ibreez grew up on Galveston Island in Texas, but went on to do her medical training in Bangladesh where she met Ibrahim. After a year spent in Yorkshire, they chose Plymouth, partly because of the rotations offered by UHP and partly for the beaches, which Ibreez missed after a childhood spent living on the coast.
They have loved being part of the inclusive atmosphere of the Trust and feel they have really been made to feel part of the #1BigTeam. They have also embraced Plymouth life, from valiantly attempting to cycle the many, many hills, to enjoying the view of the Hoe after a long night shift.
As for many people, the last few months have been tough for the pair, both professionally and personally. The doctors were already on a rotation in ICU when COVID-19 reached the UK and they have remained there. “I was just hoping my contribution would help,” said Ibreez when talking about the pandemic. Unable to return to the USA for a visit, Ibreez has been in regular touch with her family, including trading stories with her sister who is a doctor in Detroit: “Being able to talk to my sister about my experiences has been an important way to stay sane.”
The couple are celebrating their first wedding anniversary this summer, and had hoped to travel around the States for their belated honeymoon. Their once-in-a-lifetime trip was supposed to have ended with them spending the end of Ramadan with Ibreez’s family in Texas, but COVID travel restrictions meant they had to postpone their plans. Ibreez is very level-headed about the situation: “You can’t plan for this sort of thing. You have to remember that you’re not the only person in this and life will restart.”
Alongside their duties as doctors, they also run a website for other medics who want to train and work in the UK – roadtouk.com. Their advice for anyone thinking about working in UK hospitals in the future is to remember that there is always someone you can ask for help: “Don’t worry about asking for help, just find your support group and remember to pay it forward.”
Over the past few months, generous donations to the Trust have been managed and distributed by Derriford Centre for Health & Wellbeing with the help of partners SABA and planning colleagues.
Tracey Gardner, General Manager of DCHW explained: “The majestic sight of 14,000 chocolate eggs piled high on pallets will never be forgotten.”
“Due to the overwhelming number of donations over a short period of time, tackling storage and logistics was a real learning curve!
“Perishable items were the biggest issue, and we learned that delivering the goods was safer, as it allowed for social distancing, but it was quite a feat to ensure all areas received their fair share.
“Unfortunately it was logistically impossible to share with colleagues working from home but we did get items into wider community which felt like a truly worthwhile endeavour.”
Sorry if we’ve missed you from the list – you know who you are, and that you made a real difference to our days 🌈.
Alliance Online Home & Catering Essentials (South West, Plymouth Depot)
Burts Potato Chips
Cartwright & Butler
The automotive company
Food 4 Heroes
Glanbia Performance Nutrition
Iced Gem Cakes
Origin Coffee Roasters
When Sophie’s Dad Charlie went to hospital with suspected gastroenteritis, coronavirus was the last thing on the family’s minds. But he was diagnosed with Covid-19.
What followed was a two month stay at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, and a fight for his life in intensive care – just a few floors below where his daughter works as a ward clerk.
In this video Sophie talks about the kindness of colleagues that got her though the tough times when her Dad was unwell.
She says: “We can’t staff thank enough. There are no words, no presents, there’s nothing that can actually tell them how indebted we are to them.
“The doctors, nurses, consultants absolutely, but the wider team that helped him; the speech and language team, the dietitians, the pharmacists, the cleaners, the people who fed him – because he was so hungry!
“It’s just such a massive team, of administrators, clerks, secretaries, there’s so many people right across the board who have helped him to be here now.
“We will always be grateful to them for keeping our Dad here.”
Sophie’s Dad Charles Coulton was the first patient admitted to University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust with coronavirus. We caught up with him a few days after he went home.
I’m Sian, a Healthcare Assistant on Monkswell ward. We are a care of the elderly ward and the majority of our patients suffer from Dementia and/or other cognitive impairments. Caring for patients who are confused, wandering and sometimes aggressive can be a challenge at the best of times, without throwing a virus into the mix!
When we as a team found out that Covid-19 had hit Plymouth, we were all somewhat anxious as our patients were at high risk. For that reason, we started to distance ourselves from loved ones and public spaces before the official lockdown to minimise the risk to our patients as much as possible.
Sadly within a few weeks, a handful of our patients began showing symptoms and we were escalated to an ‘amber zone’. Any of our patients who had a positive swab result were transferred to be cared for by the wonderful Braunton team. However, with more patients displaying symptoms and more positive swab results, the decision was made to escalate us further to a ‘red zone’. Walking into work after a few days off and seeing ‘Red zone do not enter’ on the ward entrance was a surreal feeling. Being sent away for mask fit training, to then seeing everyone on the ward in full PPE and unable to recognise who was who, all I could think was ‘This is like watching the TV, surely this can’t be happening to us?!’
The first initial moment of walking onto the ward, donned in my PPE, was like walking into the unknown and everything had changed. We tried to keep things as normal as possible and lightened the mood in any way we could. If we had our own concerns or struggles, we would talk it out amongst ourselves away from the patients and support each other. We were still there to do the job we love, just with a few extra layers to wear!
Over time, members of our team became unwell with the virus. It was heart-breaking to see your friends become unwell and not being able to help. I began showing symptoms and was instructed to self-isolate. It was like no feeling I have ever experienced. Zero energy, burning skin, high temperature, aching joints, shortness of breath and constant chest pain were the worst symptoms. I became anxious that my fiancé, who has previously had respiratory issues, would become unwell and on top of not being able to see any family, I now had to stay away from him too. The whole situation made me feel very low.
The hardest part of working through Covid has been the patients being unable to see or hold their loved ones. On behalf of the patient’s families, we have been there to hold their hands, sing to them, stroke their hair, make them comfortable and quite honestly be whoever they have needed us to be. Those moments will be with me forever!
Things are slowly returning to normal with the ward now a ‘green zone’ again, and our team stronger than ever! But I think I can speak for the majority when I say the situations we have faced both in and out of work have had a lasting impact. There have been some days where I have just cried for a whole mixture of reasons and needed my family more than ever, then other days I have felt proud to be doing my bit during this awful time. Working with such a wonderful team has made things more bearable. We are like a little family on Monkswell and have supported each other amazingly.
I would like to finish with a huge virtual hug and big thank you to all the staff that were redeployed to us, mostly from Brent ward. Not only has it been amazing to work alongside people with all different skills, but I have had the pleasure of working with the nurses that cared for my late brother in law during his battle with cancer. I know he would be watching over us all!
Take care everyone.
My name is Lucy and I started working for University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust on Wednesday 5 February 2020. My new job was Paediatric Nurse Specialist at the Child Development Centre (CDC), working within the Neurodevelopmental Team. Six weeks after I started, Covid-19 struck, and I would like to share my experiences of how my fantastic team has supported each other, the children and young people under our care and our colleagues in the wider acute setting during this challenging time.
The first few weeks in my new job were a bit of a whirlwind. The role was completely different to anything I had been used to, but my line manager ensured that I had a comprehensive induction period, which really helped me settle in. At this point, Coronavirus was something distant, happening elsewhere in the world. Watching the headlines, and hearing the terrible stories of isolation and death in China, I remember feeling safe in the knowledge that would never happen in this country, would it?
How bad can it be? It’s just the flu, right?
Fast forward a few weeks later, and the virus had swept through Europe, edging ever closer to our little island. We were sadly learning that no country was immune to Covid-19. Then it happened. The first cases started to infect the UK and the threat became real. The country and the NHS were plunged into uncertainty.
The week lockdown began, panic spread throughout the country and chaos descended upon the CDC. Things were moving fast, advice was changing every day, and we were all feeling apprehensive and anxious. I was still new, and still finding my feet. I was just getting used to life at the Centre, getting to know the people and the processes, when everything changed – and I was terrified.
The face of the CDC
I tried to be as useful as possible. As the days went on, the admin team struggled with the volume of calls they had to make and receive and the extra pressures being placed on them. I decided, as I had no clinics of my own set up at this point, and no clear role within the CDC yet, I would help them out. I set myself up on reception joking that I was now “the face of the CDC”, and quickly learnt how busy and invaluable our amazing admin team is. I checked in the few patients that we were still seeing, greeted staff and visitors, checked temperatures, asked about symptoms, answered phone calls from worried parents and generally tried to stay positive and support the team as best I could.
As things settled down and the weeks went on, I became more confident. I started to develop my own role within the service and begin to build a caseload of children and young people. I discovered that many families were struggling under the harsh but necessary restrictions that lockdown had imposed, and were extremely grateful for help, advice, support and sometimes just someone to talk to. For many of our families, who have children with additional needs, life can be a daily struggle under normal circumstances. Knowing that there was someone at the end of the phone to talk to I think was a great comfort to them and helped contain some of their fears and anxieties.
One Big Team
Despite the uncertainty, our management team worked hard to ensure that the CDC kept running and we supported the Trust as best we could. We set up additional clinics within the Centre to accommodate essential paediatric services. We started running a fast track clinic, a blood clinic and also arranged a process to carry out some safeguarding medicals here at the CDC. The aim was to try and divert children and families from the main hospital site to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. We also hoped that by taking on some of this work, it would enable our colleagues on level 12 to be utilised elsewhere in the hospital, if needed.
Getting to grips with technology
Whilst my experiences of working within the Trust in this trying time have been largely positive, there have been some challenges to overcome. It quickly became apparent that we would have to try as much as possible to use technology to continue to offer services to our children and young people and with this in mind, teams within the CDC began to develop new ways of working. The psychology and therapies departments began utilising “Attend Anywhere,” the continence team worked hard to create a new process of telephone consultations for their families, and multidisciplinary team meetings across other organisations and agencies continued to be attended on virtual platforms. We are now also working on running some of our parenting workshops and support groups virtually, so we can continue to offer support to families with children who have additional needs in a safe way. Here at the CDC we work with some extremely vulnerable children and young people. Being able to continue our work and utilise technology has been vital in protecting these children and supporting families.
Another challenge has been social distancing within the building, which is often extremely difficult or sometimes impossible, despite everyone’s best efforts. Space is undoubtedly an issue here at the CDC. This has meant we have had to have an enormous amount of trust in each other to follow the guidelines and do everything we possibly can to reduce the spread of this virus. Going forward, we are still working on space and staff are having to be ever more flexible in the way that they work. Technology is playing an important role in this, and is something that I believe will continue to be embedded into our practice going forward.
What does the future hold for the CDC?
I feel very honoured to work at the CDC, particularly through this difficult time. I do not envy my colleagues on the frontline, who are dealing with the tragic effects of this terrible virus first hand on a daily basis and I am inspired by their bravery and hard work. For us here at the Centre, the pressures have been very different. We work with extremely vulnerable children and finding ways to ensure that their safety is being maintained, essential therapy is continued, and families are well supported has been challenging.
This is not over. I have no doubt there will be some tough times ahead, but with each day, I feel more able to cope with the uncertainty. I am sure that I am not alone in saying that I have struggled with my mental health during this time, and often feel tearful, hopeless and overwhelmed. My colleagues at the CDC have been truly amazing and remained professional and dedicated under incredibly difficult circumstances. Whilst many of us have been unable to see our own families, we’ve done our best to comfort each other, make each other laugh, and help each other through as best we can. I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for me and would like to thank my colleagues at the CDC for getting me through this and making a relatively new and inexperienced member of staff feel like part of the team.
- Lucy Fleetwood is a Paediatric Nurse Specialist at the Child Development Centre (CDC)
In May, our Clinical Nurse Specialist for Headaches Becky Stuckey, featured on the Plymouth episode of The Guardian’s Anywhere But Westminster.
When the COVID pandemic began, Becky offered her services to one of the red zone wards, Braunton. And, over three days, Becky shot over 30 minutes of video content documenting her daily activities as a member of staff working on the front line as she assumed a new role as the key communicator for patients and their families, as well as becoming a mentor to some of her colleagues.