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Every Thursday the nation ritualistically claps for carers and keyworkers, a unifying sentiment.
Who are the unsung heroes they are celebrating? It is not just the NHS or health workers, there are many unsung heroes. Here are a few I would like to thank.
Imagine arriving for your ‘normal’ hospital porter shift. Your typical day includes transporting patients and service users or equipment between wards, X-ray, MRI or somewhere between. Today, however, you are on ‘morgue duty’, your priority is donning PPE to collect those unfortunately deceased patients and taking them to the morgue.
That is your day for the duration. What an honour and you try to stay upbeat because you know everybody is fighting this horrid battle, but it is not easy. I expect these heroes like many others shed a tear or two.
What about the ward clerk who turns up to do their job the best they can to support colleagues in any way possible? You normally greet relatives and visitors with a smile, directing them to loved ones and help get patients home upon discharge.
But today there are no smiling relatives or visitors to direct and you have taken yet another phone call from an upset relative desperate to hear good news. Yet again you hear a telephone conversation, where a loved one is receiving sad news over the phone. It simply is not fair.
How about catering staff receiving orders and preparing food for those without a face, because you are unable to go into the ‘hot zone’ to collect orders or take those cups of tea through?
Instead you hand them through a plastic curtain to other staff to deliver. What about that dreadful day you arrive and must inform staff that there is a problem, there are not enough hot dinners to go around, please limit one per patient per day. It is not your fault and it is heartbreaking, but you tell yourself this will end, it will go back to normal. How many tears have been shed?
The cleaning staff, whether general or deep cleaning when a patient has gone. Surely even this is disheartening. You never imagined this, were not prepared yet you still turn up, always with a smile. You constantly help us adhere to infection prevention and control; you help prevent the spread. Thank you.
How about those new members of staff not receiving training in the usual manner so navigating things themselves through unfamiliar territory? Then there is also the staff being re-deployed to unfamiliar areas. The relentless ongoing learning of new things is not easy on a normal day but in such an environment is tough.
Let us not forget the hospital library and education centre supporting staff and students being re-deployed to clinical areas unfamiliar to them. The proactive and quick arrangement of sufficient current literature, books and in numbers ahead of need. They plan to stay available as long as possible, even with skeleton staff because we need them, and they want to help.
Whether I have needed help navigating the trust IT systems, finding a book or online resource, they have been there. Their headspace, mindfulness and wellness table is bursting with resources, and expanding constantly.
When asked about my clinical area, they quickly grabbed an appropriate new book regarding giving bad news. If I am honest, I shed a tear – the kindness, care and support has been incredible.
“I know I have probably missed a few, but there are too many to name”
Every day I hear of free gifts to key workers and new innovative ways of working like electronic technology to help patients and loved ones speak ‘face to face’ or the homemade laundry bags and buttoned headbands donated to staff.
Everybody is rallying together and finding ways to cope from laughter to a cuppa and even haircuts on the ward. The trust also has a wellbeing hub available to staff to chill out or receive much-needed support.
I know I have probably missed a few, but there are too many to name and let us be honest, we are not particularly good at always acknowledging the little things.
Whether you are healthcare staff, volunteers, retailers, university academics, students or accommodation staff and anybody in between; whether you are shielding and isolating at home or taking up arms, thank you, you are a hero to me.