Reflections on Covid-19

Tackling any new job outwith your normal comfort zone can be daunting without the added stress of Covid-19. But staff across the organisation, including many AHPs, responded magnificently to the challenges of redeployment. To help recognise their efforts, and listen to their personal stories, a number were invited speak at a virtual event led by NHS Forth Valley’s AHP Practice Education Lead, Eileen Sharp.

Here are some of their reflections:

Nicola Orr – Speech and Language Therapist

“Although we found that we did have transferable skills which enabled us to fulfil the role we were being asked to do, we found the loss of our own “professional” identity difficult. Having worked as a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) in Children’s Services roles since qualifying at age 21, much of our identity is defined by our clinical expertise, rather than our leadership skills, and at times in our new roles we felt we had lost part of ourselves.

“However, the ReACH team embraced us as paediatric SLT staff with no clinical role in this crisis. Our lack of clinical expertise in rehabilitation or adult care was never a barrier at any point. The substantive Team Leads and coordinators in ReACH were incredibly supportive from the outset, guiding us through processes and procedures and answering every “silly” question. We received very positive feedback from ReACH team leaders and coordinators and heartfelt messages when we left to return to our substantive roles.”

Barbara-Anne Cleaver – Speech and Language Therapist

“We approached deployment with humility, acknowledging from the outset that we didn’t have all the answers. Instead, we tried always to “listen to understand”, and act in a way that staff felt they had truly been heard. Over the course of the 12 weeks, the underlying causes changed and evolved – initially our anxiety was around managing a team we had never met, and the fear of exposure to the virus – particularly exposing our families who had created a ‘safe’ bubble at home. It became a balance – to be human and travel the journey alongside our colleagues, without our anxieties affecting the team. As time moved on, and we became more comfortable in our roles in the teams, our anxiety shifted to what we were missing in our own department and how it would be to find our place back in the team.

“Saying that, the experience has had a positive impact. I have gained in confidence in my seconded role, and I have built relationships with AHPs that I would not have met otherwise.”

Sarah Dove – Occupational Therapist

Sarah (pictured top) has captured her experience of working in the Bellfield Centre, earlier this year, in verse.

Deployment 2020
Armed with compassion we went as a team
To assist in the war against Covid-19.
Adrenaline, professionalism (and cake) fuelled
We realised quickly the virus was cruel.

Patients had no visitors.
Patients saw no smiles.
Television vomited anxiety,
Patients were worried, so were we.

Donning, doffing PPE…..donning, doffing PPE!
A daughter on the phone was reassured to know her Mum had her slippers on to
keep her warm.
She cried and asked me to – “please, please keep her from harm”.

But names on the ward were turning red,
Colleagues were at home, sick in bed.
Numbers were rising every day, we struggled with ways to cope.
Isolation, separation, created challenges to hope.

In it together, we knew the score….my colleagues and I family.
One stayed late to play piano.
One gave us seedlings to grow.
Our internal angst was expressed by one, who let all emotions show.
We listened, supported and we laughed…..
We definitely needed to laugh.

I made some badges, pinned to our aprons, our faces showing a smile.
A real smiley face, in real life….. maybe quite a while.

My family stayed at home whilst I drove car free roads to work.
Home schooling was done, Zoom zoomed, sunny weather was a perk!
I willed the police to stop me, for breaking lockdown rules.
Who ever thought that working for the NHS would ever be kind of cool?

In March when this all started, the geese were migrating away.
Now they are returning, for winter they will stay.
Next time we say goodbye to geese, let’s hope there are no bugs.
Instead, that we can celebrate and give our loved ones hugs.