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During the lockdown period in Mar 2020, my trust, Alder Hey, were asking for volunteers to assist the clinical ward staff; with refilling stock cupboards around the hospitals or helping ward housekeepers with their role, to free up some of their time to assist the nurses treating COVID patients. With the pandemic sweeping the world, various members of staff absent with the sickness or shielding due to the virus, there was a national call for non clinical staff to help out the clinical areas in their trusts.
I really wanted to help, so I volunteered to be a yellow helper. I was a little apprehensive at first as to whether I wanted to volunteer on ICU, I didn’t know if I would be a hindrance or a help, so I asked for a general ward and if I found the shifts quite straight forward I would then ask to be transferred to ICU if they were still in need of volunteers. I felt either way I would be helping.
I had not worked at Alder Hey very long before this strange turn of events turned the world upside down. I had started working at AH on 3rd Feb on a year long secondment from Liverpool Heart and Chest FT. I was so excited; I was going to meet new people, experience new ways of working and finally gain more experience in a different type of trust – paediatrics.
When the government issued strict guidelines in March to stay home, I was concerned - I was still learning my new role, understanding new systems and making those new connections with my team. However I didn’t want to let that stop me and so offering to be a yellow helper, I felt this could bring me closer to some of the wards within my division.
Amazingly I was assigned to ward 4a – a surgical ward!! A Small group of volunteers were called in the week before we were due to start our ward shifts for training, there we were informed of what our role would entail, who we should report to, how we should act on the ward and finally we were given our uniform the ‘Yellow Army’ t-shirt – we would definitely stand out in a crowd!!
The training finally ended with a small group of volunteers having a walk round on the ward they were assigned to, there we were shown the areas we would be working in and introduced to the team who we would be working alongside.
The yellow helper shifts were required to be on a rota similar to the clinical staff i.e. 12 hour shifts – I hadn’t done a shift that long since University. I agreed with my finance team that I would complete 2 shifts a week and the remainder of my weekly hours, I would complete my finance work.
The day before my first shift was scheduled – I was contacted by a senior member of the finance team to ask if I were free, they then asked me to come on site to help with the RotAHub team – they were trying to transfer all ward rota’s on to electronic form from paper copies. This was to help the senior Operational &Nursing staff within the trust could, on any given day staff the wards to the correct number of patients and redeploy staff to COVID wards if the additional resources were required.
This was something that the trust had no access to ordinarily. Moving to electronic copies could inform senior staff of how many people were absent due to sickness, mat leave or shielding on any given day and let them rota staff more effectively.
The RotAHub team had been working flat out before I arrived to set up most of the rota’s and the ‘helicopter’. The task they were struggling with was populating the data for the next 4 weeks and training admin staff/ward managers on how to use the new electronic rota.
For the following eight weeks I have been split between Finance and RotAHub – mainly RotAHub. It has been a challenge at times but was great meeting new people, understanding bed numbers, patient/nurse ratios, being involved in meetings/discussions about COVID and being updated on wha
I felt at times I was not really helping anyone but I knew getting involved in another was making a small difference to the ward managers and helping them staff each shift correctly for the number of beds they had open on the ward that week.
Finally a team has been set up to continue this work until the e-rostering software is rolled out throughout the trust, later this year. I am slowly phasing out of RotAHub work now and back doing what I love – Accounts haha!!
t was currently happening in the trust.