Autumn 2020 issue
Est. Reading: 3 minutes

Staff Reflect on the Impact of COVID

Almost 80 people from Older People’s Mental Health services came together at a virtual event to share stories, and discuss and reflect over the last seven months on life during the pandemic.

The event was designed to connect staff from all disciplines across all five boroughs in the Trust and have a safe space to share and support one another.

Tracy Connellen (Matron) from Sally Sherman Ward in Newham talked about the sad loss of seven service users in a very short period of time and described how she managed and coped with the challenges of having 23 of her staff (almost her entire team) off sick or shielding.

Help From Peers
Tracy described how staff from the acute wards in Newham, and ex staff came to help working tirelessly to support the service users and their carers. Tower Hamlets Matron Alan Clark was one of these. Tracy described how he rolled up his sleeves and said "Tracy, what would you like me to do?" 

Supporting Relatives
She talked about how the team supported relatives, unable to visit their loved ones and using technology so that there was some connection for relatives and service users.

Lower Referrals
Dr Hugh Grant-Peterkin gave a detailed account of life in Hackney at Psych Liaison at the Homerton. He said that how quiet services were initially as people were afraid to come in to the hospital. He shared how the team coped and offered their support.

New Challenges
Dina Carr described how her role as the Physical Health nurse for Luton and Bedfordshire had changed and how the Older People’s wards stepped up to the challenge of nursing very ill people who were COVID positive.

Louise Wragg, Matron, transformed of one of the pods in the garden in Fountain Court in Bedford into a ‘NOVID’ area - meaning that once you entered the pod you were not permitted to talk about or even mention the word COVID. The pod was decorated with nice soft furnishings, pictures, a selection of books, music and games. Staff were encouraged to take their break in this relaxing NOVID area away from the unit. It was a real hit with staff.

Treats helped immensely. Mr Whippy delivered complimentary cones and other ice-cream during the very hot weather to staff. The Fountains Court team were thrilled to be presented with a huge hamper with the compliments of Captain Sir Tom Moore. This caused great excitement and really raised the morale for both staff and service users.

Supporting Care Homes
Sarah Ellis (OT) from a community team in Tower Hamlets described how she was involved and supported Care Homes with virtual training and how she had to learn how to manage this type of support online, learning how to do break-out rooms, etc. She talked about the anxieties of Care Home staff trying to look after very vulnerable elderly people who were unable to have their family visit and how sad this made everyone feel.

Read All About it - The Newham Chronicles
The Newham Psychology team produced a newsletter called: The Newham Chronicles for older people with memory issues. These went down a treat and were very popular. 

This has been one of the most challenging periods in the careers of most staff. So they valued coming together to talk about how it had been and hear the experiences and learning of others.

Carmel Stevenson
Associate Director of Nursing

One comment on “Staff Reflect on the Impact of COVID”

  1. Hi.
    Basic commnents:- a good initiative and interesting article.

    However you said about 80 elderly people took part.
    Are you please sure they did...or did some of them just watch the screen go by.?
    Carmel:- I am a member of the Newham Poetry Group.Do you please want to see
    four more light hearted poems I have attempted about Covid

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