Kent Community Health Trust staff member joins QEQM Rapid Transfer Service during coronavirus crisis

Charlie Palmer has swapped roles to help during the coronavirus pandemic

Hundreds of staff across Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust have temporarily moved to new roles, to support colleagues on the frontline, during the Coronavirus pandemic.

During the past six weeks, temporary moves have included:

  • a school nurse now working with adult patients instead – and brushing up on her hairdressing skills to help improve the mental health of older patients who are missing regular trips to a hair salon
  • a colleague moving from an office admin role to become a healthcare assistant, as she’d had experience in the past
  • a market and information analyst joining a hospital catering team
  • community dietitians moving into acute (main) hospitals to work with intensive care patients, to make sure dietary needs are met while patients are ventilated.

Among those changing roles is Charlie Palmer, a health visitor who has temporarily moved to help support the Rapid Transfer Service at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (QEQM) in Margate, as an interim discharge co-ordinator.

She normally works in the community to support families but is now working with adult patients who are ready to leave the QEQM but might need further support.

She said: “When I heard colleagues were being temporarily moved, I said I was happy to volunteer by services. I felt maybe my skill set could be used somewhere else.

“Back when I was a student nurse, I was regularly dropped into foreign environments and had to ask lots of questions and ask for support. So it’s not something which is new to nurses.

“I’m used to doing assessments and using my communication skills. In my new temporary role, I’m communicating with lots of different people.

“I’m seeing patients at the QEQM, where it’s safe to do so and chatting to them, their families, ward staff, nurses and therapists, to see where the patient is at. The little bit of anxiety I had at the beginning has completely gone. It’s been a positive experience.”

To date, 354 clinical colleagues within the Care Quality Commission-rated ‘outstanding’ trust have been temporarily moved, along with 68 who are non-clinical.

Natalie Parkinson, Assistant Director of Business Development and Service Improvement, who is leading on temporary moves across the trust, said: “Our colleagues have been temporarily moved to support those working in our community hospitals and in our minor injury units – as well as our teams working in community nursing, rapid response, intermediate care, home with support, frailty, rapid transfer, assessment beds and facilities.

“We have colleagues who have also temporarily left their normal roles to help with pharmacy deliveries, distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and with infection prevention and control. Others have taken up new admin roles to help support those working on the frontline.

“I am very proud of what people have done, in terms of stepping into unfamiliar roles and doing that with a shared purpose of caring for people and wanting to support their colleagues.

“People have been anxious, but have done it anyway and, in most cases, have really benefitted from the experience. People have been enacting the values of the trust like never before!”

“We are all working hard to beat this and I am very proud of all my colleagues fighting this – I am proud to work for the NHS.’