Author: Ali Jordan, Deputy Wellbeing Manager
Date: April 2021I came to Treetops in 2016 after having my first baby. Initially, I joined the Hospice at Home team as a nurse coordinator and then moved over to the Wellbeing Space in 2018. I manage the Wellbeing Team alongside Alison Hembrow. We support the team to deliver fabulous care to patients, whilst also supporting patients ourselves and developing our patient-centred services.
Currently, I lead our new Spring Programme, supporting people from their diagnosis of a life-limiting illness onwards. Our key values are to empower and enable people at whatever stage of their illness they are at.
MondayMonday morning always starts with a team catch up. We check in with all our team members whether they are onsite or at home. We use lots of Zoom chat and have regular catch ups to support each other and keep team morale up. Every one of us has recognised that we need to give and receive this support in these trying times. In the past year, our team has reduced in size and diversified.
We work mainly from home and this has been difficult for some. Creating a safe workspace in our own homes, having the psychological support of each other, whilst supporting patients has been really challenging at times. We have made self-care part of our working day. We remind one another to offload and switch off, self care, go for walks/runs, etc. We even have team quizzes (with categories of ‘Ikea product or cheese’ being a recent one) and virtual get togethers for chats and catching up. Today some of us are being interviewed by Heidi Booth for BBC Radio Derby about the impact of our exercise groups. Myself, Clare and one of our patients, Kate, are talking about our groups and how we have reached out to patients in the pandemic. The piece will air on the Breakfast Show. It’s really important that we use publicity opportunities. Not only to tell our stories to reach patients and referrers, but also for fundraising opportunities. The more people who know about us, the more people we can reach to offer our services and support. There are parts of our community that we know are harder for us to reach. We are keen to be available to everyone in their time of need. I’ve also been talking to a charity who provide free sessions for isolated patients to work with artists online to create their own artworks. This is a great opportunity for people to participate in a creative therapy. It can reduce boredom and isolation, gives patients a chance to unleash their creativity and - who knows - maybe starting a new hobby or interest.
TuesdayToday I am having my second COVID vaccination at the Royal Derby Hospital. I was one of the first Treetops staff members to be vaccinated back in December because I have a clinically-vulnerable child at home. Our responsibility in being vaccinated is not only for ourselves but also to protect those in our community. who cannot have the vaccine because they are too young or because of medical reasons.
Lots of our patients are clinically-vulnerable. We are all responsible for protecting them, so I’m really proud to be fully vaccinated. Lots of our patients have been successfully vaccinated and have been very keen to take up the vaccine offer. Coronavirus has been the focus of our lives for so many months. People are missing being with family and friends, hugging grandchildren, etc. Our ‘Tree of Hope’ in the Wellbeing Space has demonstrated to us that people are desperately wanting to be back with their loved ones.
I’ve also had a meeting with ‘Team Move It’. Clare and Nat facilitate our exercise classes and we have set a date for starting our Adapted Tai Chi Exercise class for patients. I think this is going to be very popular and we are all excited about starting it very soon.
This will enable people to access a mindful, slow, relaxing exercise session. Sessions focus on relaxing and soothing, and escaping from stresses and worries, helping focus on breathing and energy. It is designed to be accessed by people of all abilities. The day finishes with collecting the on-call phone from our Hospice at Home team, ready for an overnight on-call tonight.
WednesdayToday, Alison and I have been interviewing candidates for our vacant Staff Nurse position. This post will be to set up our new ‘Wellbeing at Home’ services which we are all very excited about. This will be taking our Wellbeing Service out to people’s homes, to work one to one with them whilst giving their carers a break. This allow carers time to do something for themselves, be it sleeping, self-care or accessing our carers support services.
This is a vital service, especially with the reduction in community support services since the pandemic began. Carers have often been unsupported with usual respite services being stopped. Or people don't feel safe enough to access them. We know through our constant telephone and virtual support services that people are desperate for safely delivered support.
ThursdayI’ve been doing our welfare support calls today. We call our patients and find out how they are coping with managing their illness in this pandemic, when their usual support systems can’t be accessed. Many people are struggling with their mental health. They are struggling with boredom, with isolation and with anxiety. We offer regular support via telephone to help in any way we can. We are lucky to be able to give patients our time in this way. Many have said to us how much they look forward to our regular contact. Mostly we chat about whatever comes up. You never know where the conversation will lead. In the main, most people really miss their family, friends and usual support systems. Lots of our patients are keen for us to re-open as they feel safe to come us and know our risk assessments and precautions are robust. I’ve also had a meeting with Julie Waite, our Support and Information practitioner. We discussed support for a patient and their family following a recent diagnosis. We want to ensure they are able to access not only support from us, but also support and funding from another charity.
FridayThe day starts with a realization that I am perfectly coordinated with the bus I drive, in my gown and tiara – yes I drove into work like this! Today it’s the final get together of the pilot group who completed our new Spring Programme. It has been an incredible success and really valued by the patients who have participated. We have spent 3 months working one to one with each person over Zoom or telephone. The programme was designed to cover a holistic range of topics that a person diagnosed with a life limiting illness may need. Then to set personal goals that are unique to each person for them to achieve.
One of our pilot group has taken up the piano. Another person has applied to do an Masters course at university. Mostly, people make small positive changes to improve their wellbeing. These changes don’t have to be dramatic but can be if you want them to. We do hope to inspire people. We finished the pilot group with a special visit from Leah, our trainee occupational therapist. Leah is currently furloughed, but came to be our special guest and quizmaster for today’s group session.
What a great end to the week and my outfit may have just started something…