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

Posted: 23/04/20

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.

A new ‘wobble room’ has been set up for staff at our specialist services at Walkergate Park in Newcastle, to help them have a well-deserved time-out during the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides a space to reflect and relax, and ensure our staff have space to look after their own mental health a this difficult time. ‘Virtual wobble rooms’ are also being set up for staff who are working remotely or aren’t based somewhere with a physical room set up.

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!

The team on Bede ward have put together ‘Positivity Boxes’ for any patients who may need to self-isolate. The box is full of quizzes, crosswords, colouring challenges, and a writing pad and envelopes. They also have a sensory lamp, a CD player and mindfulness and relaxation CD to go with it.

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.”

“In the midst of these difficult times, we wanted to shout about some of the excellent work that is going on behind the scenes at Project Choice, the supported internships programme at CNTW.
Nationally, all students within the NHS have been temporarily paused. This has not only been a difficult time for us, but for students as well. Especially as some of our students who have complete reliance on routine.
We have created extra work for our students that can be completed remotely and we have been absolutely blown away by the determination, dedication and resilience of one particular student.
Luke De Redder, 17, came to Project Choice straight from school with a love of IT. With the support of his colleagues, Luke secured a placement in the Informatics Service Desk and Customer Support. As a Project Choice intern, Luke is able to build his skills and knowledge with on-the-job training.
Luke was upset when he found out he wasn’t able to continue his placement with Informatics due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But instead of allowing this change to hinder his progress, Luke volunteered to work remotely from home like the rest of the Informatics team. He has helped with the set-up of Microsoft Teams and supported users with working from home – all with a smile and an upbeat attitude! Luke is an asset to Project Choice and we are really proud of him. Keep up the good work.” – From Simone and Gayl at Project Choice

The Newcastle and Gateshead Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Team have started a ‘Keep on Keeping on’ wall of photographs and wellbeing messages to boost morale. “It is a work in progress and a daily reminder to all staff of how well we continue to work, adapt and manage the support of our patients in #mentalhealth crisis at this time.”

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.

Dan at Walkergate Park has also used his amazing drawing skills to produce some eye-catching hand washing and social distancing posters! They’re a great way to remind everyone how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and staff and patients are loving them.

Patients and staff on our Lindisfarne ward have recently created a series of posters, based on several conversations they’d had recently about #COVID19:

“We’d heard from staff on other wards there had been similar conversations with their patients. These conversations involved lots of reassurance to help calm patients and help them understand. We decided to put together a series of posters to display in our lounge area.

“We found that the actual process of putting these posters together as a group has been very therapeutic, reducing anxiety and agitation.

The team shared the posters in a Facebook group for mental health professionals, and have been amazed at the reaction. “We were astounded to see people from Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and Iceland all taking an interest in the work we had done and hoping to use it in their own services.

“At this very difficult and challenging time for everyone, it is so rewarding to be able share our practice with others – both in our Trust and internationally. We hope that this will help with some of the worry and fear we are all experiencing.”

If you think your ward or service could benefit from this, you can download the posters as PDFs:

Coronavirus - an easy guide for patients (16kB)

Created by patients and staff on Lindisfarne, Kenneth Day Unit (Medium Secure Learning Disability) March 2020

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

A staff member from one of our Community Treatment Teams shared the ‘quarantine routine’ that she has worked on with someone she supports who is self-isolating. “I think given current circumstances she has done amazing! Focusing on a daily structure and routine hour by hour, and adding a lot of helpful distractions.”

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.

The exercise therapy team on Alnmouth ward have been lifting staff spirits with yoga in the garden.

“We have wiped our notice board of normal meeting agendas and ‘glimpse of brilliance’ stuff, and changed it to an NHS heroes board. While recognising we are all ‘NHS heroes’, some have gone that bit further in supporting us to get through the last few weeks. The team have found this very helpful in recognising the support that we give each other and in processing our emotions around the stresses of the last few weeks. I would absolutely recommend all teams adopt something similar. We have laughed and cried and felt proud at some of the things that we have noted!” – Jane at Carlisle CMHART

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.

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.

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!”

“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 recently volunteered to be redeployed from the Children and Young Peoples’ Services community team, and I have just completed my first week at Walkergate Park in Sunderland – my first time working there in two years! I was feeling a little nervous about going back amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I just wanted to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all of the staff who I have worked with during my first week, who have made me feel so welcome, taught me and kept me right when I wasn’t too sure with different things. The care and compassion they show towards our patients is second to none; the work they do is very specialist and quite complex, but nothing phases them. They are absolutely amazing!” – Erin

Maria would like to send a shout-out to her colleagues on Alnmouth ward at St Georges Hospital:
“I returned to work as an Assistant practitioner on the ward on Monday…I can not express how welcome they have made me, and although I have only done 3 shifts so far, I feel like I have worked with them for years. The ward manager, Kelly, has been fantastic, and is enthusiastic about me working on the ward which boosts my confidence even more. Then today when I came home, I had some cakes and shortbread left on the doorstep by one of my neighbours. It brought tears to my eyes!! I’m proud to work for the NHS.”

“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

“Michael, Peter and I would like to say a huge thank you to our amazingly dedicated staff working into police custody across CNTW. Every day they come into work in a challenging environment with a smile on their faces to ensure the best possible outcome for vulnerable individuals. The care and compassion they demonstrate to the people we meet is exemplary. Our staff have been brilliant at pulling together and supporting each other across our pathways during this difficult time. Our thanks also extends to our remarkable colleagues within Northumbria Police Custody suites, thank you for your support, humour and most importantly keeping us safe!” – Amii, Criminal Justice Liaison and Diversion Service.

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.” Patients and staff from the Richardson Eating Disorder Service ward have adopted the mantra, “when you go through a negative situation, don’t think about it, make it positive!”

“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

Hazel from Oakwood Ward in Cumbria says: “I would like to thank our very hard-working domestic staff who do such an important job keeping our wards, offices etc. clean and tidy. They are such a massive part of our team, especially now helping in the fight against the spread of #Covid19. They so deserve recognition. Here at the Carleton Clinic we have a great team doing just that; my own ward, Oakwood, have our fantastic Sandra, who works so hard keeping our ward spick and span, she is a gem. Great job Sandra and all domestic staff working on our wards!”

“A huge thank you to all the clinical, management and corporate staff working together across the Central Locality to keep our services going during this difficult time. I am so proud of all the efforts of our staff who are going the extra mile to care for our patients and to support colleagues who are working in difficult circumstances. Thank you to you all!” – From the Central Locality Directors

“The Procurement team obtains most of the Trust’s supplies including PPE equipment, so you can imagine how busy they have been! The dedication and experience of the team has been clear to see over the last few weeks. They have worked tirelessly to support our patients and colleagues, securing our allocation of vital PPE and clinical items in short supply, exploring alternative supply options, moving stock around to where it’s needed most and adapting their working hours to suit. They have been instrumental in establishing new ways of distributing equipment so that it flows smoothly according to priority. They have also ensured that ‘business as usual’ activity can continue, securing essential goods for our patients and staff. Their great work has also protected our valued suppliers, by doing their bit to ensure they get paid, without disruption, during a difficult period for suppliers.” – Tracey and Gavin, Procurement Department, NTW Solutions

“Thank you to Ian Twizell from a member of staff at Northgate for all the help and support you gave over the phone when contacting the absence reporting line. Ian was very polite, supportive and compassionate and was very helpful in sorting out an issue with accommodation. Ian dealt with the problem directly and immediately himself – going above and beyond what he needed to do to ensure the issue was resolved and provided reassurance in a very anxiety-provoking and stressful situation. His kind and approachable manner really helped and his positivity, pride and gratitude towards the workforce at this difficult time really shone through – thank you so much!”

Maria Leonard shared these lovely words with us: “I am the biggest supporter of the NHS and believe CNTW are the best organisation I have worked for. The current situation wells me up, that during this crisis we have mobilised services, redeployed staff and continued to offer the best service possible to the people we care for – and I have not heard one member of staff complain about being asked to do something different. I feel so proud to be a member of this fantastic staff team. Thank you.”

“I received a call from the lovely, outright kind, Katrina asking me to pop to the ward. When I got there, she and Marie presented me with this beautiful handmade Rainbow NHS Bear from them and the other staff on the ward. This was a gift to us five Newcastle Night Coordinators, bought out of pure kindness of heart. Whilst we are all living and working in uncertain times, these two selflessly thought of others and bought us this as a mascot for our office! The lovely words in the card are just that, lovely! He is absolutely beautiful and we are all sincerely grateful, THANK YOU!! Every single one of you guys keep the heart beating along with us all.”

“Sunderland and South Tyneside Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Teams have overcome daily challenges to continue to provide expert mental health care to people in a crisis. They have embraced new technology and social distancing, supported each other and services around them and shown professionalism and compassion in some very challenging times – well done, you are all NHS Heroes!”

Kathryn, Associate Nurse Director in our South Locality, says: “Our amazing staff at Wear Recovery are working hard to support some of the most vulnerable people in society, providing drug and alcohol treatment services for people living in Sunderland. They have gone above and beyond to ensure that despite illness, lockdown and disruption to usual support networks, patients have remained supported and in treatment. They regularly make donations of food and clothing to those in need and are without a doubt true #NHSHeroes – huge thanks and well done to you all!”

“A heart-felt thank you to IT staff who have kept the Trust running under extraordinary circumstances. We can now work from anywhere suitable, Skype has become the norm, and the wonderful team in IT are available outside hours to help us sort what we can’t sort ourselves. Thank you. This has made a really challenging situation manageable.” – Melanie, Consultant Clinical Psychologist

“I would like to thank my admin teams across Northumberland and North Tyneside Community Services at this time. We are all supporting each other, being safe, assisting other teams, and maintaining some humour to motivate each other which means a lot. Being there to support our clinical colleagues and, most importantly, our service users is greatly appreciated by us all.” – Sharon

“I clap for all my wonderful colleagues in the South Northumberland Community Treatment team – who have worked so hard over the past few weeks to reconfigure the service, keep in touch with patients and carers over the phone offering support and reassurance, continuing treatment for complex #mentalhealth needs, send out information and make sure people have essential supplies…
Nurses, support workers, and Occupational Therapists all working together to provide a great service.
Our Step Up and physical health teams are on the frontline carrying out essential medication administration and physical health checks.
Our admin staff are (as always) going above and beyond to get prescriptions out, take enquiries, sending out letters, offering support and advice.
Our wonderful consultants are still carrying out complex reviews over the phone – we have all learnt to use Microsoft Teams to be able to communicate effectively! And we are rolling out face-to-face video consultations for patients.
Our cleaner coming in every day and keeping us all tidy and stocked up, and bringing cake.
All the while managing our own lives, families and anxieties.
It’s been a busy few weeks. We have laughed, worried supported each other and kept in touch with people working from home. We are very lucky to have each other.
Mostly I want to clap for our outstanding leadership team… who lead us with love, support and human values beyond compare. You are all great.
Over the coming weeks things might get tougher, as we have to adapt further to support people who may lose loved ones, and maybe support other services, but when all of this is over then we will all be able to be proud of how we are contributing as professionals and as good humans.” – Jane

Jackie from Aidan Ward in Newcastle says: “I have the privilege to work with some amazing staff. These individuals give 100% 24 hours per day, 7 days per week despite obstacles and challenges faced on a daily basis. You are my NHS Heroes.”

Lisa, an Occupational Therapist at our Sunderland and Gateshead Community Acquired Brain Injury Service, says:
“I would like to thank our incredible admin team for supporting all of us clinicians working from home. They continue to work tirelessly behind the scenes; in fact their work load has increased, as we are sending more letters, reports and information to our service users, as well as still taking calls and referrals as usual in these unusual times. Our admin lead regularly checks on our well-being and is a source of encouragement and strength I now rely on. Thank you Lara, Brooke, Mary and Drew, you are doing an amazing job!”

The team at Longview unit in Sunderland would like to say a BIG ‘Thank You’ to Dr Bidwell & Dr Butler: “We want to thank you for the continued support you have provided during what has been an increasingly challenging and busy time. You have both been so motivating, caring and supporting throughout and have helped us pull together remaining positive and kind. We are glad to have you both as part of our team. Keep doing exceptional work as always!”

April would like to thank her colleagues at Bamburgh Clinic for their support and generosity in collecting Easter Eggs for the children and young people in our inpatient services. They collected enough chocolate eggs to ensure that all of our young people had an egg for Easter. Our thoughtful staff were very aware that parents and family members would not be able to visit their loved ones in these unprecedented times and wanted to bring a little piece of chocolate joy to all of young inpatients.

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!