My COVID Experience: Jude Fewings

Team Lead for the COVID-19 Respiratory/Rehabilitation and Discharge Team, Jude Fewings has shared the process behind organising a new multidisciplinary team at the beginning of a pandemic. Keep an eye out next week when we will be bringing you the experiences of eight members of the MDT. 

 

June 08b

Towards the end of March as more Covid-19 positive patients were admitted to the Trust and the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) became a ‘Red zone’, it became clear that our first surge of patients was starting.

Wards were moving and mass training started in order to upskill volunteers across the hospital. I was asked if I would move from my day job as the consultant therapist in neurosurgery and establish a team to provide therapy to this patient group. I agreed on the Wednesday and by the Friday we had started.

My vision was clear, to create a suitably staffed, skilled workforce that was multidisciplinary; centrally led, with excellent lines of communication. A seven day respiratory and rehab service that facilitated patient and carer involvement, goal setting and outcome measurement with an integrated step-down discharge service into the community.

From the outset, I was provided with incredible support and flexibility by the Therapies management team, in addition to which we were advised that there were funds available for equipment.

As word went out that a specialist rehab team was being set up, I was inundated with volunteers. I decided fairly quickly that to lead this team in challenging circumstances, I would require a few senior clinical colleagues. Requests to other service lines were granted and the leadership team started to take shape.

To bring my vision to life over the course of the next few days, I worked with the heads of the therapy departments to move staff into the team and create pathways for the Covid-19 patients.

Staff training and psychological support

Training was requested from and provided by the ICU clinical educators. On the 3rd of April, a Friday morning and at 13:00 the initial Covid-19 Respiratory, Rehab and Discharge team commenced operations.

I approached Rachel Clarke and Alan Hassard from Psychology who between them provided short sessions, throughout our three months to assist and maintain the mental health well-being of the team.

Patient Information

A bespoke Covid -19 Rehab booklet for the patients was created using a fusion of original pre-existing patient information and exercise booklet and additional respiratory and psychology information.

Key points for daily efficiency

Communication and high-level standardised care was at the forefront of team.  Attendance at all the white board meetings/ward MDTs.  A daily ‘therapy MDT huddle’ occurred in order to establish numbers of priorities and discharges.

Logistically, care needed to be taken with every patient contact in the red zones. In order not to use PPE un-necessarily, thought regarding what equipment was required, joint working and above all safety went into every Covid positive patient contact.

At our daily therapy MDT we ensured that we co-ordinated our care and joint working, including referrals to our Rehab nurse specialist, SLT and Dietician colleagues.

Use of a WhatsApp group was invaluable to co-ordinate the team quickly and efficiently on a daily basis and for uploading rotas which at the time needed to have the versatility to flex up and down according the numbers of patients in each week and across the weekends.

Infection Control

The hydro pool area became our centre of operations, chosen for its location and also access to showers (every therapist  showered, post work to keep their families safe, if we were required to mix with the green therapy teams then scrubs were changed before) and space to allow social distancing.

The Domestic  team of Teresa, Margaret and Anna who serviced the pool area need mentioning individually. They were the silent, night-time members of the team who due largely to their skills and dedication to keep the areas in Hydro spotless meant that my team were able to stay well and infection free.

Equipment

The Covid budget was made available to the rehab team and the purchases made were carefully considered to be that which after Covid would be used to benefit all patients in the Trust.

I had approved:

  • 40 Hydroflex chairs to enable all patients to sit out in a pressure relieving supportive seating.
  • Cognitive assessments in order to have a wide range for the OTs to use.
  • Hand and ADL equipment to maximise patient independence
  • Parallel bars for the rehab garden to further increase the range of therapy that we can offer outside on different surfaces.
  • Bean bag positioning cushions in a range of sizes and shapes to facilitate Prone (tummy lying) positions for those very breathless patients.
  • A therapy table that can be height adjusted in order to rehabilitate in standing and use your arms for a functional task at the same time.
  • Two Therapy bikes that patients in bed can use to maintain muscle strength and range of movement were rented on a long term lease.
  • Four therapy bikes to use when the patient is sitting in chair were purchased.

All of the above equipment has been used and has had huge importance in contributing to functional gains in our patients.

Data and patient pathways

From the outset, data and outcome measures were of prime importance to be collected.

Patient follow-up on discharge was also of importance to us as a team. It was at this point that we joined forces with the Community Respiratory teams in Plymouth and Cornwall and together created a bespoke follow-up service for patients on discharge. A database was created for collation of the outcome measures, which can now also send the referrals from the acute team to the Community team. A big thanks to Roger on this work.

Team Work

I have nothing but respect for all of my team as we moved through the last three months together. We have had a challenging but enjoyable period of time creating a bespoke rehabilitation service. Their flexibility and can do attitude made my role easy and the assistance given to me by the senior team truly invaluable.

Final words

There is so much more to say and celebrate, so many staff across therapies who although not in the actual Covid therapy team have assisted and been part of the bigger picture that words in a blog just can’t express or cover.

Now with acute cases on the decline and the team de-escalated, we return to our pre-covid areas of work. The learning from the last 3 months has been extensive.

My take home message: Intensive, co-ordinated, borderless MDT rehabilitation has fantastic results for patients and for staff.

My remote working coping strategy

A while ago, we asked for staff’s tips for adjusting to remote working. Read on to find out what we learned.

Contributions from Jason Scott, Enterprise Solutions Architect, IM&T and colleagues across the Trust.

Video calls  

Circulate an agenda in advance.  Help people to prioritise and compile it in advance, not at the tail end of the call.  Allot time to each item and keep to schedule.

Allow time for people to fumble the log-in – send clear instructions in advance and test them. Be patient.

If there are slides or documents, circulate them in advance.  Don’t rely on being able to display them ‘live’. Often bandwidth is insufficient.

Be punctual. Tele-meetings are real meetings.

If people are working from home, and it’s not possible to lock children and the dog in the airing cupboard (!), use a decent headset/earphones with microphone.

The meeting chair should ask people to introduce themselves, and it’s polite to re-introduce yourself before you speak.  

An icebreaker is a good idea. Ask people what they had for breakfast, or send a picture of where they are…

Don’t be an agenda-benda.  Stick to the script and don’t let the meeting drag on.  Keep people engaged by asking for opinions.  

Keep people engaged. If you can hear the sound of a keyboard, it’s a sure sign people are disengaged and doing their Ocado order.

Prevent people talking over each other, make specific time for questions.

Make sure people understand which bit of the meeting they are to contribute to and how. Help them to get their documents lined up.

Keep minutes and action items, circulate them and follow through.  Don’t assume people know what they are doing next.  Demonstrate tele-meetings count.

Video conferencing needs rock-solid wifi. Have a standby, if it drops out.  You’ll want good lighting and if you are using a lap-top, put it up on some books so we are not treated to a view, up your nostrils. 

Make sure there’s nothing embarrassing in the background.

Sit still, it uses less bandwidth.

Avoiding burnout

It is important to have down time. Mind recommends continuing to access nature and sunlight wherever possible. Do exercise, eat well and stay hydrated.

AnxietyUK suggests practising the “Apple” technique to deal with anxiety and worries.

·         Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.

·         Pause: Don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Pause and breathe.

·         Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.

·         Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.

·         Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.

 

Tips from colleagues

My team are keeping in touch and trying to maintain morale and humour, even when working from home. One day we all decided to wear hats for our call, then we found out you could add backgrounds!
Shaun Mann MCIPS
Senior Category Manager – Estates & Facilities

The general atmosphere within the hospital has been one of solidarity and kindness. Everyone is doing their best to provide the same gold-standard level of care and rehabilitation. Our patients and the general public have been hugely supportive; and this makes a big difference. I’m coping with these unprecedented changes by keeping busy, and trying to hang on to as much normality as I can. I’ve been working from home this week, and keeping in touch with colleagues remotely has been really helpful. My family, friends, neighbours and patients are a big source of motivation. Everyone is appreciating each other more, and taking time to pause and reflect. It’s been really important to manage my routine and self-care in order to not burn out during this period. Every time I chat with my friends or family via video call I feel more connected, and that helps me to carry on providing the same high quality therapy to my patients.
Lucy Smith
Speech and Language Therapist

Use WhatsApp Groups
We set up a WhatsApp group to keep in touch with everyday chit chat and work related issues with software and we all try and help as a group. For me personally I am on self-isolation for up to 12 weeks as my mum has issues and I have diabetes. It’s just knowing that even though I am not there in person, I am still being supported by my line manager and feel included. I just have to keep thinking it’s not forever, just a little while.
April Bostock
Pathway Co-Ordinator for Neurology

Keep to the same routine with getting up in the morning and getting ready for work (albeit you may dress differently in the home environment).

Make sure that you have a break at lunchtime.

Use MS Teams to make sure that you are in regular contact with your team and close work peers. Our team has a team brief at 9:00am every morning to go through the work streams and activities for the day with everyone that is working on that day.

Offer one-to-one support to those that you line manage either via MS Teams or the telephone when they need it.

Be prepared for the flexibility around change that is required when working virtually, especially in the current crisis, and support those staff that would generally find this difficult.
Jayne Middleman
Learning and Organisational Development Facilitator/People Development Lead

Our research consultant (Dr Carroll) has organised regular catch-up meetings (at least weekly) – 80% work related 20% general how are you; this has been appreciated for sure and possibly something that others should do.  Also, where possible, she makes zoom video calls rather than telephone calls for that extra keeping in touch. 
Anon

I put on ‘Calm my Dogs’ via Alexa and I found it was so soothing whilst I was working myself. It’s soothing classical music and worked a treat me and the dogs.
Sue Tuft
Personal Assistant to David Edwards

As a Department, IM&T were quite swift on getting our teams split up to maintain resilience as much as we could. Therefore we’ve all been dispersed for quite some time now and have a number of methods for staying connected and keeping a check on the welfare of our people.

We realised that a lot of our teams all work in different ways and, whilst we didn’t want to be too prescriptive about how it’s done, we wanted to ensure that all our managers were checking in on the welfare of their staff during these difficult times. Therefore we encouraged everyone to set up twice daily Teams calls that were purely about checking in and saying hello, not about operational stuff. We asked all our managers to invite their SMT link member, as well as Andy, to these calls, and they dip in and out when they can so that they are being seen by our teams on the ground.

Andy put the feelers out across the whole department and we created a quick spreadsheet to show who was doing what, which allowed us to pick up on areas where some more interaction might be needed. Andy and the SMT then focused their attention on these areas to see what they could do to make sure everyone was taking care of themselves and each other.

In terms of cross-team liaison, we have MS Teams chats within each team across the department, and anyone can send a message into another team’s chat – this is working really well for us as it imitates things like me popping over to service desk to ask a tech question.
Bryonie Brindley
IM&T Business Services Manager

 

Further reading

7 simple tips to tackle working from home

https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/7-simple-tips-to-tackle-working-from-home/

Get Organized: 20 Tips for Working From Home

My experience: Locked Down

My experience: Locked Down

Audrey ButkieneI’ve always considered myself being an extrovert – I love being around people, hearing loud laughter, participating in social gatherings, being busy at work and always rush around. It can be sometimes tiring, but I love even that bit about having a busy lifestyle. I remember one of my last days at work, when me and my mentor Sophie Hall came back rushing to the office after having a brilliant and exciting day on the wards. We kept talking over each other to the rest of our colleagues, probably not making much sense. And I felt so alive that day.

Few days later I felt very ill and had to call in sick. Since then I never returned to our office…

For the next two weeks I stayed at home self isolating and it took me over a week to finally start feeling better. I started working from home—something that I’ve never experienced before. The whole concept felt very strange—how does it even work? I didn’t even have my laptop, I felt completely isolated.

The rest of my team was still working in the hospital, but with the amazing support from my managers and colleagues, I continued to work from home for another two weeks, counting the days when I can finally join my team. And then Boris Johnson announced the lock down (when I was still coming to terms with the school closure)…

I felt slight panic. I was already self-isolating for the past two weeks and now I don’t even know when I am going to leave the house. The life I knew flipped upside down, and it made me feel very anxious. I was supplied everything I need to continue working from home, we started having daily team meetings on MS Teams, I could finally see my team members again! The first day of working from home me and my mentor stayed on a video call all day to make us feel like we’re in the same room again. And it was lovely.

Audrey Picture2The next following days, which turned into weeks, I started to look for positive side of working from home—I was saving money on petrol, parking, I didn’t waste money on buying second lunch almost every day. And it also let me stay in bed extra half an hour each morning. I no longer had to wear uniform, put make up or worry about packing my lunch every evening. Everything I needed was here, in my own home.

Audrey Picture3Two weeks later the novelty of easier working conditions wore off and I started feeling low again. I felt like being in the emotional roller-coaster and craving to get back to normal more than ever. I started to miss getting ready to go work, wearing make-up, feeling the sense of accomplishment when you finish your working day and the most important part—being around people again. It is just not the same when you close your laptop at 4.3o pm and start preparing dinner without taking your time to summarise your day on your way back home. I fully understand why this might not be possible for a long time, but it is important to have hope and feel grateful for having an opportunity to keep working during the lockdown.

So far it’s been 120 days since I am working from home and I keep volunteering for every task that involves going back to the hospital, even if it’s just for few hours. I stopped taking life and work I have for granted, enjoy good and bad days because there will be many of those in the future and they will still be beautiful. And I will be able to deal with every challenge that the future holds.

Stay safe. Keep smiling.

Audrey Butkiene
Business Change Assistant
Digital Transformation Team
IM&T Department

 

 

My COVID-19 Experience: Alison Owen

I am a nurse at UHP and I have anxiety.

Blog stock image

I am a nurse at UHP and I have anxiety. After taking part in a conversation on wellbeing, I was asked to share my experience on accessing mental health services. This subject may be a bit raw for some of you right now, due to your own struggles, or through grief, so I hope this article is of some help, and I apologise if it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

Did you know that nurses are four times more likely to end their own lives? (Office for National Statistics, 2019). Or that between 2011 and 2015, 430 doctors died by suicide? (Kinman and Teoh, 2018). I don’t know the statistics for our other professional and non-clinical colleagues, but I do know 40% of sickness in the NHS is due to stress and mental health, (West, 2019), and I’m sure that number will represent all NHS staff, no matter the job title.

Poor mental health can affect anyone, and it is important we talk about it, and end the stigma associated with mental health conditions.

It scares me to write my story on what is such a public forum, but I am a great believer in talking about mental health. If one person reads this, identifies they or a friend needs help, and then accesses that help, then sharing my experience is worth it.

About two years ago, I began to experience anxiety at work. I’ve always had a bit of social anxiety which I could manage, but this episode was something else and I began to dread coming into work. Looking back I couldn’t tell you the trigger, but I know my workplace was often busy and overwhelming. I worried I was going to make a mistake, I worried I would miss something, and that because of me, someone might die. Every health care professionals worst nightmare. At the beginning of a night shift my friend saw something was wrong, I cried to her for an hour in the toilets. After that shift I had 3 months off work.

So, how did I get better? Luckily I had an incredible support network in my husband and friends. I spoke to my ward manager who was brilliant, and my GP who was beyond understanding. I attended group sessions for anxiety put on by Livewell Southwest. I wrote in a journal everyday. I was resolved to get better, and with a lot of help from other people, I got there. I can assure you it was not easy, but it was better than the alternative.

A year after all this had happened, stories in the news began of a virus in China. It didn’t seem like that much of a big deal at the time but here we are, 6 months later, our worlds have been turned upside down by Covid-19.

I’ve been working in an amber/ red area during this time. It’s an unfamiliar environment, we’re always in PPE, many staff have been redeployed so the team is of mixed abilities and experience. We face a lot of emotions from other people, and we all have our own emotions around the situation and our personal circumstances.

I could feel my anxiety returning again, little tell tale signs, I was getting irrationally angry and I had a constant chest pain that appeared in February and wasn’t going away. Recognising what was happening to me, and not wanting to get back to the point of panic attacks in the staff toilet, I decided to seek help early and accessed a counsellor through The Laura Hyde Foundation.

The charity has recently collaborated with Project 5, a group of professionally accredited counsellors, and I was able to access three free counselling sessions plus a load of other self help materials.

It was really easy to access help, I went to the Laura Hyde Foundation website and on their getting help pages they had a link that said ‘get support.’ I was able to register with Project5 using my NHS email address and then get an appointment the next day.

Speaking to someone really helped me process my emotions on what was going on, which was especially important when due to lockdown, my normal coping mechanisms had been taken away. I was able to understand more about my reactions and find ways to cope with them when I was feeling overwhelmed.

I want you to know that if you are feeling overwhelmed or perhaps just not quite yourself, then help is available for you too. It can feel like the hardest thing in the world, to admit that you’re not coping, but that’s OK, it’s OK to not be OK.

 

Getting Help

To access a counsellor through The Laura Hyde Foundation please visit:
https://laurahydefoundation.org

You can also access help through the UHP Staff Support Hub:
http://www.plymouthhospitals.nhs.uk/covid19-support

There is an NHS support line: 0300 131 7000 between 07:00 and 23:00 each day with a 24/7 text service available by using the number 85258

Livewell South West has a 24/7 helpline at the moment: 01752 434922. Their other services can be found on their website here

For Cornwall based staff please visit:
https://www.cornwallft.nhs.uk/i-need-help-now/

Or the rest of Devon:
https://www.dpt.nhs.uk/i-need-help-now.

 

References

Kinman, G and Teoh, K. (2018). What could make a difference to the mental health of UK doctors? A review of the research evidence. https://www.som.org.uk/sites/som.org.uk/files/LTF_SOM_mental_health_of_doctors.pdf (Accessed 18/6/20).

Office for National Statistics, (2018). Suicide deaths among nurses aged 20 to 64 years, deaths registered in England and Wales between 2011 and 2017. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/adhocs/009209suicidedeathsamongnursesaged20to64yearsdeathsregisteredinenglandandwalesbetween2011and2017 Accessed 14/4/2020.

West, M. (2019). The Kings Fund. The NHS crisis of caring for staff: what do we need to do? https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/blog/2019/03/nhs-crisis-caring (Accessed 18/6/20).

 

 

My WFH experience: Mechelle Rowe

My WFH experience: Mechelle Rowe

Blog1

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 is, 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 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.

Blog2This 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.

Thank you.

Mechelle Rowe, IM&T Business Change Manager

IM& T Friday Quiz Night

My COVID experience: coming back from retirement

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. 

In August 2017 I retired from nursing, as I wanted to have more time with my husband, who is 16 years older than me.

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. 

Monika Lear

My redeployment experience: Hazel Gullick

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.

Hazel Gullick and Chelley

Michelle Winfield and Hazel Gullick

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.

Our experience: life as international doctors at UHP

Ibreez & IbrahimIbreez 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.”

My COVID experience: Dad was admitted to the hospital where I work

My COVID experience: Dad was admitted to the hospital where I work

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.

Watch his video here.

My COVID experience: Sian Killen

Sian KillenI’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.

Xx