COVID-19 staff experiences: From back office to frontline

Quality Governance Facilitator Kayleigh Gullis and Quality Governance Administrator Stacey Marie are part of the Patient Safety and Quality Team. They are usually office based; Kayleigh working alongside the Service Transformation Manager for Quality Improvement Projects and the Head of Patient Safety and Stacey Marie reviewing DATIX reports, supporting  service leads and a contact for PALS enquiries.

At the start of the pandemic they both volunteered to undertake Health Care Assistant (HCA) training so they could help on our wards. Neither of them had any previous experience or knowledge of working in a caring role. Here’s their account of working on Longleat Ward at Warminster Community Hospital:

Kayleigh – I volunteered to be a HCA for a few reasons. After listening to the news when the pandemic was just starting and hearing people volunteer to help the NHS I felt like I could be doing more. I was really nervous about becoming a HCA but the training we had was brilliant and we were made to feel very valued. I recently lost my mother in law and I was able to support her during her end of life which gave me the encouragement to help others. I helped with personal care, became a waitress delivering meals and handing out cups of tea, sitting with patients to talk to them about how they were feeling and listening to their life stories. There were happy and sad times, lots of laughing, heartfelt moments and feeling like you are looking after your own grandparents. I felt very supported by two HCA’s in particular Deb and Carolyn who were really helpful and understanding. The whole team on Longleat Ward were very welcoming and friendly. I enjoyed many freebies from different companies including Easter Eggs, hand creams and head bands, but did not enjoy wearing a mask all day. Working on the frontline has made such a difference in my non-clinical role, seeing things from their perspective, what works well and what doesn’t work so well. It has helped me to understand the workings of the ward and the different priorities they manage. I had many conversations with the team about what my usual role was and what we do as a Quality Team – one patient was also very interested in what I did. I hope this will help bridge the gap between quality and the operational teams. My experience as a HCA is having a positive impact on the quality improvement work I am currently supporting on the ward, as we are all working alongside each other.

Stacey Marie – My experience working on the ward was eye opening. However, I don’t think I have ever felt so nervous in all my life! But, the team on Longleat Ward put a stop to that instantly and made me feel welcome and at ease. Going from admin to HCA you begin to view and understand things from a different perspective. It has enabled me to do my normal job so much better. I am able to review incidents with different insight and help support senior members of the teams with a different approach to before. Being present and working alongside them has been much more effective. I loved getting to know the patients, building trusting relationships with them and hearing all of their incredible stories. The highs far outweigh the lows. The amazing feeling you get when you have helped someone when they cannot help themselves and seeing how thankful they are that you are there, helping them. I will be continuing to work as a HCA on the Bank and although this is a worrying time, so many positives have come from this current pandemic and I am grateful for that.

Thank you to Kayleigh and Stacey Marie not only for sharing their experiences, but for their willingness to work flexibly where they were most needed. We are proud of you both.