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Teamwork makes the dream work!

29th November 2020

Princess Alexandra

Submitted by Phillipa Haslehurst, The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust

Our ‘Covid 19 Voluntary Services’ Team was made up of six members.

One was the Voluntary Services Manager and five were volunteers who were ‘recruited’ to develop/manage/organise and implement the virtual visits. Each individual brought with them experience and knowledge from across the board to create an outstanding team of professional volunteers. They are:

• A furloughed Secondary School Learning Support Assistant

• A furloughed Sexual Health Nurse

• A furloughed Office Administrator

• A Butterfly Volunteer

• A Hospital Employee volunteering on her days off

Dealing with a roller coaster of emotions, with both patients and families, they set up, managed and ran both services; astoundingly giving between four and five, full, working days each. This equates to over 150 hours per week of volunteering. Without them, the services would not have been delivered effectively or successfully and the patients at the Princess Alexandra Hospital would have had limited connection with their loved ones.

The background to enable our services to run has included our team of volunteers being involved in multiple meetings and developing relationships with The Trust Board, IT, Quality First, Intensive Care Unit, Consultants, Information Governance, Ward Managers, Health Care Assistants, Patient Experience and The Anne Robson Trust. Our journey has created an unmitigated lifelong bond with teams across the Trust with the respect of our volunteers being placed at the pinnacle.

The experience and pure grit of the volunteers has meant that projects have pulled together in an unbelievably short time – something that would never have been able to happen prior to Covid-19.

As well as our ‘full time’ administrative volunteers, we also had a team of virtual visiting volunteers (mostly made up of the hospital’s Physicians Associate’ students and staff volunteers), who were responsible for carrying out the iPad visits with patients and families on the wards.

The Service’s operation was so successful in the pilot week that by week two, it was running seven days a week and it has since been rolled out across the whole hospital.

Over 25 hours volunteering a week has been provided in addition to those already managing the service. A strong team supporting each other has emerged.

However, post furlough, some of the initial team of volunteers have been required to return to their pre Covid posts of employment/study. Since created a new virtual visiting volunteer team, we are incredibly fortunate to have made up of hospital staff, including Executives, Chaplains and additional volunteers who provide at least three hours a week independently either as a volunteer outside of their employment in the NHS or in their working day (where managers have kindly allowed them to volunteer in our Trust’s essential service).

It is important to remember that four volunteers, who have been with us since the start, are now mentoring the new ones joining the team.

As a result, our patients are able to feel a critical sense of connection with their families and friends – see the expressions on their faces, hear their laughter, and hear their concern.

Here are examples of feedback for the Virtual Visiting and Message to a Loved One:

“Many thanks for arranging the call yesterday, it was very emotional, but so important to us, so just thank you for that. Many thanks once again - it is truly appreciated.”

“Thank you to you all you have been amazing the past weeks she has been in.”

“Thank you so much to you and all the team for making this valuable service available to us and doing a great job, it’s really appreciated by all.”

“Dear virtual visiting team, much appreciated for all your efforts. It’s an amazing service and we’re very grateful, Thanks.”

“I’ve just got the most wonderful news that my Mum has just beaten Covid-19 and now tests negative, so she is leaving hospital around 2.30pm, so we will not need the virtual visit.”

“Sadly my mum passed away this morning, we were all with her and telling her lovely things; thank you so much for everything you have done, it’s really been so lovely to have your kindness. We all send our love and mum too for all you have helped with, so pleased we could be with mum in her last days. Lots of love H, L, K and M Xxx.”

“I cannot wait to tell her I love her and will see her as soon as her nursing home eases the visiting restrictions. She cannot talk and doesn’t look at the screen but I hope she can hear my voice and know I am here waiting to give her a kiss and tell her I love her and always will.

“It’s been so hard not knowing if I will ever see her again so I am grateful to you and all your colleagues. Thank you.”

“The two Virtual Visits that took place were arranged and delivered through a very empathetic and accommodating team. Although this is no substitute for a face-to-face visit, it was reassuring for our family and I believe, of some comfort to my mother, despite her cognitive limitations.”

“What a wonderful service you provide and I’m so grateful to be able to have the opportunity to speak to my brother. Thank you. I’ll be ready for 2:20pm, can’t wait.”


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