A brilliant collective response at Tewksbury Hospital to the Covid pandemic has been formally recognised by the Community Hospital Association (CHA).
Work to support both colleagues and families through the repurposing of Abbey View Ward won the CHA’s Innovation and Best Practice related to Covid-19 Award, which was presented to Matron Julie Ellery on Monday 19 July.
The award recognised a project to set-up new communication channels for patients who were cut off from their families and who at the beginning of the pandemic last Spring were anticipated would require end of life care, as well as efforts to redeploy clinicians from other areas to support the ward.
Evelyn Prodger, Quality Improvement Lead and one of the judging panel at the CHA, said: “Two projects of communication and staff support together have received very positive feedback from all staff, patients, relatives and carers and together the work undertaken at Tewkesbury deserves a CHA Innovations and Best Practice Award.
“The communication project is a great example of maintaining a patient centred compassionate approach to care in the midst of such a challenging time. You have shown what good looks like and set an amazing precedent.
“Everything you achieved in a short space of time was quite incredible, and it was clear from listening to your sharing how proud you are of what you and your team were able to deliver. Well done.”
The change in focus at Tewkesbury was planned and implemented over the course of a week in March 2020, when services at the hospital were suspended and the ward was asked to care for end of life patients who were Covid-19 positive.
Theatre sister Lisa Ryland and Matron Julie Ellery realised it would be an extremely difficult and emotional time for both patients and their families because of the extremely stringent visiting restrictions, while PPE made it challenging for ward staff to answer phones.
So a new team was set up to maintain daily contact with families, to give personalised updates for them and to read letters, poems and messages back to patients.
Lisa added: “Families were really pleased we were doing this and were so grateful. Where we had patients in who were end of life we contacted the family to invite them in to visit. The feedback we got from that was amazing – it really helped families with the journey and helped people accept how much someone was deteriorating, which is hard to describe over the phone.”
The award also incorporated the processes to support colleagues from across the hospital who volunteered to work on the wards, including training, shorter shift patterns, higher staffing than normal, a buddy system for people new to working on a ward and a ‘wobble room’ for people to take time out of the rest of the hospital.
Matron Julie Ellery said; “I couldn’t be more proud of my colleagues at Tewkesbury and the amazing work they have put in over the last 18 months in extraordinary circumstances.
“Being part of the team effort has been rewarding, and now it’s nice to see the collective work of everyone at the hospital recognised with this award.”