Occupational Therapist, Helen Totton and Physiotherapist, Paul Minty have shared their experience of being part of a new multidisciplinary team in the face of COVID-19:
Helen Totton – Occupational Therapist
When I was asked to work within the COVID team at first I had anxieties about what to expect and how to keep myself safe. It felt like starting a new job! My worries were alleviated quickly; the COVID team were so welcoming and wanted to work as a therapies team not as individual professions. Any time I spent on the ‘red’ wards I actually felt reassured by the PPE we had to wear, it felt very secure. I was very grateful that I did not have to wear it all day like the nurses had to as it was so hot but felt very protective. The ‘donning’ and ‘doffing’ was very time consuming and I was always aware of trying to ensure I saw as many patients as possible while I had ‘donned’.
This experience has provided me with opportunities to learn from colleagues, especially as the team developed their skills to appropriately support and rehabilitate the patients recovering from COVID. My own skills regarding my approach to initial assessments had to adjust due not being able to take paperwork in/out of the ‘red/amber’ zones. Therefore not only did I need to remember all points to assess but also the answers provided. Working within the COVID team has been, I feel, a valuable experience in developing my knowledge and skills, however there is still so much I need to learn! This team has provided us an opportunity to, in my opinion, demonstrate the need for therapy interventions within a patient’s journey along with the need for MDT working to facilitate safe and timely discharges and appropriate follow-up at home. It has been a privilege to be a part of this incredible team.
Paul Minty – Physiotherapist
My name is Paul Minty and I am a physiotherapist who works in MSK outpatients and in pain management at Rowan House. I was redeployed to the COVID-19 Rehab team in early April. Initially, this was very a challenging time as I had not been on a ward for nearly two years. Luckily, a super multidisciplinary team was being formed so there were others in the same boat as me which is always helpful.
To begin with the patients were either too ill or feeling rough due to fighting the virus, which made it difficult for me. I was there to get people up, moving and back on their feet which was the last thing some patients wanted to do. As time went on and patients felt better, they were able to engage more with physiotherapy and I was able to utilise more of my skills to get people moving.
On the ward we set up a gym space where we were able to take patients to work hard for 30-40 minutes helping them regain their strength and fitness to be able to return home. This made the rehab much more enjoyable despite being in full PPE which made this type of work very hot. Alongside this we regularly took patients out to the secret rehab garden to get some exercise outside in the sunlight and fresh air.
Ironically, during the horror of the COVID-19 crisis the care that we were able to provide patients with was amazing compared to my experience as an inpatient physiotherapist earlier in my career. We worked in an innovative way as a large multidisciplinary team, allowing us to give the best possible care we could. We had the required amount of time and resources to do our job better than ever which was reflected by our ability to get patients up, out of hospital and back home to their families, not only surviving COVID-19, but thriving.