Staff going above and beyond in the face of COVID-19

Posted: 20/03/20

We’re so proud and thankful for everything our staff (and patients) are doing in the face of pressure from the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s just a few examples that have been shared with us of our teams (and patients) going above and beyond – we’ll be updating this page regularly with more positive stories from across the Trust.

The team on Cheviot Ward have been working with patients with learning disabilities, to support their understanding of Covid-19. They used the ‘waves of wellness’ experiment that shows why hand-washing is so important.

The sports team at Bamburgh Clinic have created some exercise videos to help patients who may need to isolate stay active. Check out the videos on our YouTube.

Inpatients at Monkwearmouth Hospital are taking part in the Rainbow Trail. This is a way for young and old to get involved during this time of social distancing and isolation. You can be as creative as you like, using pens, paints or anything you have in the house! “As well as the rainbow, we are putting a key on the banners, to give a shout out to all the key workers.” Simply display your creation in a window to help cheer up passers-by.
We are hoping we can spread the Rainbow Trail across all of our services; young people at our Redburn Unit in #Northumberland are also now taking part in the Rainbow Trail!

Occupational Therapist William said, “I just wanted to share some of the Rainbow Trail artwork the young people on Lennox Ward have done over the past week. We are all adapting as a team, alongside the patients, to the current situation with Covid-19 and have been focused on keeping a positive mind-set around the unit (hence the rainbows!). We are also adapting to education being cancelled for the time being, and the team have brought together structured day timetables which promote exercise, continued learning and engagement in meaningful activity.”

Staff at Castleside Day Hospital in Newcastle have been reaching out to check on patients self-isolating, and kitchen staff making ‘packed lunches’ for delivery to patients who staff are visiting.

“The Forensic Community & Criminal Justice Liaison teams have been fantastic, attending training & ward updates to prepare should they need to support ward teams in the coming weeks – they’ve shown true care and compassion.”

Patients on Alnmouth ward in Morpeth are planning to write poetry expressing their feelings about the coronavirus pandemic. They’ve been keen to look after each other and are busy thinking of new activities they can do on the ward.

Several teams at Walkergate Park have made their own posters to add a personal touch to the social distancing and handwashing messages on their wards.

The Sunderland Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Team are pulling together and supporting each other. “We heard about an older lady having difficulties getting supplies – staff donated provisions to be delivered to her.”

“These are testing times for any clinician and we acknowledge that we all feel anxious, however this has not stopped the team from continuing to deliver a fantastic service. A huge thank you to every staff member in the South & West WAA CTTs who have shown that good care and interventions can be delivered over the phone, continued to see patients where necessary and have gone out of their way when I have requested information from them. They also recognise the need to support each other by setting up a food swap box, offering to help those who might be in isolation by doing shopping etc and giving huge amounts of support to each other. Keep up the excellent work team!” – Kate from the South Northumberland Community Treatment Team

Staff have been working hard to reassure our patients. One patient in Northumberland has worked with staff to create an Easy Read document with advice for other patients. This was therapeutic for the patient and helped reduce the anxieties of themselves and others. Francine, a Registered Mental Health Nurse in Cumbria, has also gone above and beyond to create printed support and information packs so that all important information is available to hand, which has really helped staff and patients.

We’ve also been made aware of lots of staff supporting their local communities outside work too, such as volunteering to support the local meals on wheels services.

Hannah, a Clinical Lead at the Trust, has shared some words of advice and encouragement for staff returning to work on the frontlines to assist with the coronavirus pandemic:

“I just wanted to share my positive story to try and alleviate any anxieties that some of you may have about returning to the front line.

The last time I worked as a full time inpatient nurse was 12 years ago. Since then I have worked in the community and then in Trust Innovation. Since the pandemic started, all of the internal and external work that I had booked in was cancelled and so I offered my services as a nurse to help my colleagues on the frontline. I did politely request any community work in the Sunderland area as this is my comfort blanket.

To my surprise, I was informed that Embleton Ward (a male acute admission ward in Northumberland) were struggling with staff off due to the virus. I was so nervous and anxious about going to the ward but as a nurse, I put on my uniform – well… I breathed in and squeezed myself into my uniform (I have put some weight on since the last time I wore them) and off I went to Northumberland!

The ward staff have been so warm and welcoming. I received a great induction to the ward as soon as I arrived and they have been consistently helpful, answering my questions, pointing me in the right direction, reminding me of patients names etc. It really is like riding a bike, you never forget and it does all come flooding back to you. Even my “hospital corners” were on point! (Very proud of my bed making efforts). The only thing that has challenged me the most was the fact that the medication is no longer kept in a trolley – it is now in what I can only describe as a huge, robotic, vendor machine which is operated by fingerprints! I was afraid, very afraid but the Pharmacy staff were brilliant and showed me how to work the robot and the staff are happy to help if I get stuck.

The patients have even been fab in helping me to find different things and keeping me right in the daily routine of the ward. I did think that I would be more of a hindrance than a help but when I did feel like a spare part, I sat with the patients to get to know them a bit more. I actually got some positive feedback from a patient who found it beneficial that a staff member spent some time interacting with the patients as they have not been able to of late due to being busy with the pandemic.

I am actually really enjoying being on the ward and I have rediscovered my passion for nursing on the frontline. It has also been a great opportunity to work with staff who I have never worked with before and it is heart-warming to see all NHS colleagues coming together and working together in these difficult times and I think we should get out and about on the frontline more often so when there is an emergency like this then we all know what to do.

I hope this has made it slightly less daunting for you all – the staff and patients will keep you right! Stay safe, good luck and most of all, try and enjoy the experience.”

Kate, Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Commissioner from NHS Northumberland CCG, is another NHS staff member returning to frontline work, helping out two days a week on Cleadon Ward in Sunderland. She said, “Can you please give a shout out the staff on the ward for making me so welcome and the CCG for releasing my time!”

Staff are pulling together more than ever before and have been sharing kind words to thank and encourage each other: 

“I would like to say a huge thank you to all the administrative staff on the Monkwearmouth site who have come to work and battled through their anxiety and worry for family and friends to come to work and support the clinical staff. They have supported each other with good humour and care for patients and staff alike. Admin sometimes feel like a forgotten service, but they have been absolutely tremendous in this difficult time. I would just like to personally thank each and every one for their important contribution in these worrying times. Well done admin teams! Within IAPT services where I work, the Senior team have been brilliant supporting their clinical staff and admin team (which they have always done). They not only provide a fantastic service to the public but they are all a fabulous team to work with, each one going above and beyond sharing information for each other and patients. I think Heather Blackburn deserves a special mention for her care and compassion to patients and staff, which I have experienced from day one of working in this lovely team.” – Doreen, Administration Team Lead South Of Tyne.

“Thanks to all the staff teams at Walkergate Park for all their efforts and continued support. Everyone is working together and supporting one another through this difficult time.”  – Julie, Ward 1 Walkergate Park.

“I have recently done two most enjoyable bank shifts on Castleside and Akenside Wards. I have found it very rewarding to work in such a welcoming and patient-centred environment, where staff really do go that “extra mile” for the patients. I was particularly struck by the calm and nurturing atmosphere, and how content the patients appear. The wards are bright and appealing, and I would love to do more shifts on both wards.” – Sarah, bank staff nurse.

“Myself and Bev would like to thank all of the Sunderland Older Adults Admin Team at Monkwearmouth Hospital for all of their hard work at this time. We have such an amazing team and in these uncertain times we couldn’t do without each and every one of them doing their bit. They are certainly keeping the sprits up in the team, we have not stopped laughing. Thank you and keep smiling.” – Rachael, Sunderland Older Adults Community Treatment Team.

“We would like to say a huge thank you to all our fantastic domestic staff who have gone above and beyond to maintain our clean environments, replenish stocks, supported staff and patients & keep services running smoothly.”

“I would like to virtually send all my fantastic colleagues in CNTW a bunch of flowers to say what a fantastic job you all do. You should be so proud! Positivity goes a long way in influencing others.” – Cheryl, Lindisfarne Ward.

“Huge thanks and appreciation should be given to all clinical staff who are going above and beyond to ensure our staffing levels remain safe, working extra hours to give the best care to our patients. What an amazing effort!”  – Gemma, Ferndene.

“Thank you to the teams at the Northumberland Recovery Partnership and the North Tyneside Recovery Partnership. Thank you so much for all of your hard work and dedication to our clients. I’m humbled by the selflessness you have all shown in such uncertain times. Each and every one of you have gone above and beyond to give our clients the best possible care and support. I am privileged to call you my colleagues and could not be more proud of you all!”

“What a fantastic team we have. They’ve all risen to the challenge the week has brought, pulling out every stop to ‘do their bit’. I’m incredibly proud.” – lovely praise for staff from Jan, Perinatal Community Mental Health

Helen at Bamburgh Clinic in Newcastle commends all the staff there – “They’ve pulled together, really working hard to ensure that our patients are safe and have the same inpatient experience as they would at any other time.”

“Over the past week the Neuro Outpatient staff at Walkergate Park that I work with have been absolutely amazing. We regularly have 600+ patients per month attending our various clinics and staff have been extremely busy identifying risks, calling the patients, making sure they are ok, scheduling in telephone consultations. As a lot of the interventions we provide require physical interventions: botulinum toxin injections, splinting, physical assessments etc and some of our patients struggle with their communication, it’s difficult to provide the level of service the staff are used to and want to provide. However by keeping our patients and our staff safe then we can beat Coronavirus!”

Community Nurse Donna would like to give a big shout-out “to all at #Newcastle CTLD (Community Team Learning Disabilities), every nurse, doctor, psychologist, AHP support worker and admin. Everyone’s doing a fantastic job. Proud to be part of such an amazing team!”

Sarah from the Sunderland Psychological Wellbeing Service had this to say about her team: “We’re all working from home at the moment supporting our patients by delivering therapy via telephone! It’s a very challenging and uncertain time for all of us as we are not used to working away from each other! But we’re doing a great job continuing to support our patients as best as we can despite these challenges. Our senior team are doing their upmost to support us & it’s greatly appreciated!
Well done CNTW!”

Claire said, “I am so proud to be part of the Safeguarding & Public Protection Team. The team have adapted, continued to support clinical teams, and ensure we maintain standards to keep people safe along with our partner agencies at this challenging time.”

Laura said: “I’d like to highlight the brilliant work of the Richardson Eating Disorders Intensive Day Service in Newcastle, who’ve adapted to accommodate ‘high risk’ patients & identified alternative ways to provide therapy.”

“The IRT call handlers have been keeping up positivity in the office by sharing what we are grateful for daily, followed by a round of applause. We realise that we are living through a period in our lives that we will never forget and are grateful for our colleagues around us. Thank you to all the call handlers during this challenging time and for being in high spirits as always” – Claire Prime, Pathway Coordinator

If you’ve got a good story about how CNTW are responding to COVID-19, please share it using #NHSCovidHeroes and tag us – we’re @CNTWNHS on Twitter, @CNTW.NHS on Instagram, and we’re on Facebook and LinkedIn too!