Amy Millington and Jenna Watson, Community Neuro team

Tell us about your roles before Covid-19?

The community neuro team is a multi-disciplinary team that offers support to patients with a neurological condition.

We support people at various stages of their condition and work with them in their own environments, but we also bring patients into our rehab gym at St Johns Therapy Centre where we run a variety of groups. 

We work with patients to achieve their desired goals, and rehab people in their daily life to minimise the extent of their disability. For example accessing public transport and the local community services, returning to work, or strategies for managing cognitive deficits and mood.

We play a large part in continuing to support our patients and their loved ones at the end stages of their lives, working closely with hospices, community palliative care teams and GPS to ensure our patients are comfortable and well supported.

How have you had to adapt?

We have altered our assessment process by doing telephone and video consultations and treatments where possible and using and creating online resources, videos and information packs to empower our patients to continue their rehab at home independently. However we are still going out to see patients at home when this is required.

This has meant we have had to have training from infection control to learn the correct way to don, doff PPE outside the front doors of patient’s homes. 

We are working hard to support other disciplines where able, for example the physio and neuropsychology teams have joined forces to support patients who are struggling with a lack of routine and activity resulting in anxieties and low mood.

We have also set up a temporary 7 day service to assist with patient flow through hospitals and facilitate discharges.

How have your patients reacted to the changes?

Our patients have been incredibly supportive and understanding during this time and any intervention we have had with them they have been incredibly grateful.

We have found that our patients have been happy to trial new ways for us to work with them.

However some patients have declined face to face consultations where needed due to the fear of COVID-19 over their neurological condition – which has been a challenge for our team, but we do our best to support them and find an alternative way to interact with them.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?

A large proportion of our patients are in the high risk category group and isolating therefore they are struggling to manage feelings of low mood and anxiety, as well as fears of the impact of reduced services affecting their own health.

On a personal level, this has caused frustrations and feelings of unease in the team at not being able to fully complete our rehab and offer the usual extent of services we would normally be offering our patients.

Also some families don’t want us to review patients until crisis point, or we’ve faced difficulties around accessing patients in residential or nursing homes. However the team have been keen to rise to these challenges and we’ve taken a positive approach to managing social distancing and using PPE so that family members are reassured and know that we are here for their loved ones.

Is there anything you’ve found inspiring about the work of you and your colleagues in recent months?

We have both found it so inspiring to come into work every day and work within such a positive and supportive team.

It’s been incredible to be part of such a well-oiled machine. Even  when things have been uncertain, with rapid changes to our  the services we  offer and  changes in the way we are all working, it has been impressive to see the way the team are communicating and working efficiently together.

There is a strong feeling of everyone being listened to and all points being taken into consideration – lots of new innovative ideas have been developed within the team to best support our patients and each other during this current climate.