Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures so University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) has been asking colleagues if they would consider being deployed to new roles during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
So far, more than 170 members of staff have temporarily ceased their usual jobs and have moved into new roles to help with the Trust’s COVID-19 response.
Vickie Mason, 42, from Lancaster, is just one of the many members of staff at the Trust who has willingly accepted the challenge of taking on a different role.
Vickie had been working in admin with the Trust’s Home Oxygen Service based at Springville House at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI). Three months prior to that Vickie had been working in admin as a Cancer Care Coordinator for the Oncology Department at the RLI.
Now, in a complete change of direction from office work to ward-based challenges, Vickie (pictured above) has been deployed to the ‘Complex Discharge Team’ on Ward 6 in Medical Unit One at the RLI and is working as a Discharge Coordinator.
Vickie, who lives with her partner and 16-year-old son in Lancaster, said: “I just put myself out there and waited to see what came up.
“I met with Kelly Paul, the Complex Discharge Team Manager, who went through everything with me. I have had brilliant support from Kelly. She’s been great and the nursing staff have been lovely! I can’t fault the team.
“I was a little concerned at first about going from Outpatients to Inpatients. I had never worked on the wards but everyone has really looked after me, Katherine Mason Ward Manager is a great support.
“I enjoy a challenge and I’m quite flexible. I’ve covered a lot of maternity leave and have worked on the ‘Bank’. I can’t fault the team I’m with now.”
Vickie said the other Discharge Coordinators had introduce themselves to her and had been very helpful: “They have asked me if I need anything. It all feels very welcoming,” she said.
“As a Discharge coordinator I have been on Ward 6 frequently to speak with patients. I have always worn PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and I have been given the support I need. It’s definitely challenging and I’m enjoying it.
“My role is to ensure a safe discharge for patients. I organise packages of care for patients if they need it. We hold MDT meetings each morning and I liaise with nursing homes and with health professionals such as occupational therapists and physiotherapists.”
Vickie has already helped to discharge six patients home with support from Kelly. The patients have had varying packages of care and have been grateful for their care.
Vickie said: “The first gentleman I helped to discharge was very thankful for my help.
“He was a younger man and coronavirus hit him hard. He was a very independent man and was delighted when he was able to go home. I could see the smile on his face growing when he got the news that he could go home. It was a nice feeling to know I was part of that.”
Vickie feels that being deployed to a new role has been a positive in other ways: “My dad is a retired Paramedic and he is really proud of me.
“My next-door-neighbour who is elderly, claps for me and is hoping to meeting up with me when this is over. It’s nice that the situation has brought the community together.”
Claire Alexander who is leading the ‘workforce Cell’ for the Trust’s COVID-19 response, said the Trust is keen for many more people like Vickie to be deployed to a variety of roles.
The Workforce Cell has been tasked with supporting the Bed Expansion Programme and the Community Recovery Beds. The core function of the Workforce Cell is to match demand for clinical and other skills (identified through daily situation reports and forecasts) with supply (volunteers, new recruits and temporary deployment) and to oversee the deployment process.
Over the last few weeks Claire and the team have been working hard on the ‘Deployment Hub’ which enables colleagues in substantive roles, whose post is ‘paused’ or less active as a result of the COVID-19 situation, to move into a role that is in higher demand.
Claire said: “I am extremely proud that our staff are stepping up and rising to the challenge of deployment into new areas.
“This is an opportunity for colleagues to develop new skills and to make new friends and contacts in our hospitals and in the community. Everyone is being offered training for these new roles and we have ‘champions’ and ‘buddies’ as well as support from managers.
“We have various areas to fill and we are keen to hear from people who could take up these opportunities.”
Key critical areas where support is needed include Ward Clerk support, Supplies/Procurement support, Registered and Unregistered Nurses (RN and CSW) and ‘Hotel Services’ support (Portering and Domestic support).
David Wilkinson, Director of People and Organisational Development for UHMBT, said: “We have all adapted to new ways of working and it has been fantastic to see the mobilisation across the Trust as we try and support areas which are most in need.
“For colleagues who might be apprehensive about being moved into another area, we can now offer ‘champions’ and a buddy system to help those embracing new horizons.
“We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been deployed so far and look forward offering new opportunities to many more of our colleagues within the Trust.”
For more information on deployment to new areas please contact the Deployment Hub by emailing: [email protected]
If you have any questions on deployment please contact: [email protected]