Volunteers helped distribute over 22,000 individual PPE packs

27th November 2020

Story 23 The City PPE Team Volunteers Staff

Submitted by Janet Poole, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust

At the start of COVID-19, it was recognised that it would help the clinical staff to have individual packs of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to take out on their clinical visits to patients' homes. When PPE distribution was centralised, it was understood that we needed more support.

This was when a casual conversation, between Angela Hall (Clinical Development Lead – District Nurses) and Julie Pink (Community Involvement Manager), sparked the suggestion that volunteers could significantly contribute to the distribution system.

From the month of April, a team of our volunteers have been regularly supporting staff at the Blackbird Leys Centre to pack PPE into grab bags. This new team developed a new rota to work for a five- day schedule which was well managed between two groups.

When a District Nurse or Community Therapist makes a house call, they would get one of these packs containing gloves, mask, apron & a clinical waste bag. These PPE grab bags have eased the process of accessibility and accountability for the PPE maintained within the system.

The PPE arrives at the centre in very large bundles and needs to be individually packed into sets of five in a bag. So, when someone knows that they are making 10 house calls in a day, they could take two such bags and carry on with their work. These PPE grab bag sets are rightly sized and reduce the frequency of contact per bag. The volunteers prepare these sets using the assembly line method adhering to social distancing norms.

Care was taken by all members to maintain the work flow without any disruptions. Any team member who was unavailable, other members of the team were able to pitch in to fill the gap. In some cases, they agreed to do additional duties.

This dedication led to the distribution of 22,412 individual PPE packs.This outstanding achievement was only possible because of the commitment and close working relationships of the volunteers and staff.

This team was put together as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak . Most of its members were new to volunteering and working with volunteers. But this Team quickly became effective and much appreciated by the clinical staff.

The task involved in this role may be monotonous, but each pack has a story to tell from our frontline staff donning it.

On an average,1,400 PPE packs were made by the team every week.

The volunteers developed very strong working relationships with the staff and was seen very much as part of the team.

Below we have added quotes from the volunteers and the staff who were part of the Team.

Two volunteers said: “First of all, the people at the centre are wonderful, kind, caring and welcoming. They have been truly lovely to us and made us feel part of a team. We have been totally trusted to organise ourselves and work in our own way which has been great. I must admit we have changed the bags but that proved to be positive. We have a routine and quickly get into it; the time goes very quickly. We like 'doing our bit' to help amongst nice people and a friendly atmosphere.”

“I would like to send a huge THANK YOU on behalf of the Community Therapy Service (CTS) Team based at Blackbird Leys, for the kindness the volunteers have shown when coming to pack our PPE. They are always so cheerful, and we are all truly grateful for their hard work,” said Sally, Occupational Therapist.

Kirsty, from the East Oxford District Nurses team, wished to say this to the volunteers: "Thank you for all that you and the rest of the team have done by making all the PPE so readily available. It has taken a huge pressure off the District Nurses as we try and continue our work looking after patients at home. I've seen so many people, many of them volunteers, working really hard making up the packs and organising the availability to us all on such a huge scale. It's good to know we are all part of such a well-oiled machine! You've all been Brilliant (note the capital 'B'), Thanks again."

“All the volunteers based at Blackbird Leys were a joy to work with. When we needed to make stock changes at the last minute, they never complained. They just continued to pack as normal. There is no way the Central DN’s and CTS could have made up these packs themselves and continue to work during such a changeable time.” Feedback from Rachael , Assistant Community Therapist.

"I am so grateful to the lovely volunteers who worked so hard and with such a strong team spirit to pack up the PPE grab bags. They were a lovely group of people and were always cheerful despite it being a fairly monotonous role. All the District nursing and therapy teams in the City benefitted from a consistent supply of PPE grab bags to enable them to continue to care for their patients over a difficult period." Feedback from Janet, Clinical Development Lead.

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