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Working during coronavirus

“I’m a physiotherapist providing care on the frontline. Coronavirus means we’ve had to change the way we work and support the people who need our help. A lot of the work that I’m now doing is remote, and involves making a telephone call to discuss a patient’s condition rather than physically visiting them.

A lot of my work is hands on with patients so it isn’t possible at the moment within social distancing rules. That hasn’t stopped me or my colleagues doing all we can to keep providing our normal support. We’re just doing it differently! We’ve uploaded videos to help people to manage the symptoms of their illness at home, or to do some gentle exercise. And we’ve created other online, wellbeing resources like meditation too. These are available to everyone online here, and if any of our patients have any questions around these, they can still contact us directly .

This is a time of uncertainty for everyone but the overall worry that I’m tending to come across from patients and their carers is that this is a respiratory infection, and around 50 per cent of the referrals we receive are for management of respiratory conditions. Patients are worrying, as are their carers, which is natural, but they understand the reason we’re currently restricting some of our usual visits. It’s because they’re particularly vulnerable and we want to keep them safe. Any infection could cause them complications, so we remain there to support them, just from a safe distance.

The hardest thing about the changes we’ve made is that we all do this job for one reason – to provide care and support to local people in our community. We provide a valuable resource to patients and their families as they come towards the end of their life, and we want to make, what is one of life’s most challenging times, as easy as possible. Supporting people through this time is really important to everyone who works here so it’s hard that we can’t do that in our usual ways at the moment. We know that the changes we’ve made have been, not only to protect our patients and carers, but also the staff that make this support network so effective though. We need to stay well so we can continue to provide care to others.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t worry about coronavirus myself. It’s a concern that the whole country has got to adapt – but essentially that’s what makes us human – the ability to adapt. I have no doubt that after this pandemic has settled, the world will be a better place. We’ve all had to make changes and sacrifices to have a positive impact on this disease and preventing its spread. When things settle, we can all feel proud of the part we’ve played in supporting our nation to be strong and resilient again.

It’s not been easy, and it won’t be easy for a while, but we’ll always have to overcome difficulties in life and death. At St Catherine’s, I know we’ll keep making the right decisions and supporting each other through these uncertain times.

I’ve never seen anything like this before in my lifetime. I hope to never come across it again.”

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