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A strong and caring bond between team members

30th November 2020

Val Shannon

Submitted by Julie Sellers, Alderhey Childrens’s Hospital Liverpool

Val Shannon is head of the Alder Hey Patient Experience Team, her team have made many developments over a short period of time responding to change.

Val strives to ensure the team members are multi-skilled to ensure smooth running to adapt as needed where and when required. They have a diverse understanding of each other’s roles, which in turn generates a respect of roles and skills thus, developing a strong bond and caring between team members. A united and cohesive team approach in support of both care of each other and ultimately a strong service.

A good example of this is the response to Covid which put a huge demand upon the service, a challenge the team responded to with diligence and enthusiasm. Val continued to attend Trust meetings to liaise re Trust needs cascading a number of requirements for action which requires staff and experienced volunteers to work closely together with immediate effect:

Helplines to be set up to work in conjunction with PAL answering calls from patients/parents with queries. This involved concierge and team members who were shielding working on the helplines (best use of resources) working from home with support of IT facilitating equipment of laptops, set up lines etc. This was achieved very quickly with team members being trained up via PALS and supported by other Trust staff from various departments.

Message to a loved one service set out to support adult ICU patient’s families and children/young people’s extended family contact. With support from our IT team a service was quickly set up to provide delivery of video/telephone or email messages. Favourite music playlists were also set up. This was really appreciated and valued by those at home unable to see or talk to their loved ones. The patient experience team were extremely proud to be able to support in this way, it was very emotive and at times emotional.

Volunteers unable to be at their usual ward activities further responded to a need to support the parent’s accommodation in MacDonald House. This is an on-site home away from home for families who are from outside of the local area and need accommodation to remain close to their child and was close to closing at one point. At the start of the COVID 19 the RMH Charity decided to remove staff and stopped accepting new referrals. The Trust quickly stepped in to look for a way to continue to keep the house operational at a time when it was needed more than ever. Patient experience team and volunteers were fully trained, and up and running within 1 week. This allowed RMH to remain operational and also created a link between the volunteers and RMH – this provided a link between the 2 sites and is a huge positive from the difficult situation.

Attend Any-where video clinic appointment, again any issues in connection or queries responded to via the helplines.

Concierge staff work together with experienced volunteers to ensure patients, families and staff are supplied with face masks and use of sanitizer. Concierge continue to supply normal service re concierge duties of responding to queries in person by phone and organising volunteer activity as required.

Volunteers ‘manned’ entrances to work towards reducing ‘footfall’ in the atrium to monitor limited use of outpatients attending appointments to ensure only 1 parent /carer support aimed toward reducing potential infection risk. The setup of exceptions for additional parent carer with children in liaison with wards and heads of departments monitored and authorized via helplines and concierge.

The above demonstrates swift effective action in response to identified Trust needs and a cohesive team approach in support of each other flexible and adaptable to need as required as far as possible.

In addition to COVID needs, the general duties and associated service within the PE team was also continuing to run as far as possible given reduced volunteer numbers re COVID and 3 staff shielding although working from home on helplines:

An additional factor occurred as Val was off poorly post op and Anne Deputy PE manager/ Volunteer manager had an accident breaking her ankle. Following initial brief recovery time they both continued to maintain contact via emails and were available via phone/email if advice needed.

This team again demonstrated its ‘family’ bond as staff contacted each other to see if any support was needed, checking in on each other by Microsoft team meetings and chat facility meant the team rolled along just fine as each member knew to maintain their tasks and check if could additionally support each other. A huge strength aspect to this team!

Thankfully as a result of technology we have managed to ‘grow’ from this challenge and emerge as stronger and more resourceful. This team relishes and rises to challenges and genuinely cares about the service they provide consistently going the extra mile.

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