National Day of Reflection: “When you are in it, you don’t have time to think.”

As part of the National Day of Reflection, we spoke to a few members of staff to get their thoughts on the last 12 months.

Dr Catherine McGowan, Consultant in Palliative Medicine, has worked at the Trust since 2009 and spoke with us about how the Covid-19 pandemic affected her, and how the team had to adapt.

“When people ask me how it’s been, it’s quite tricky to know how to respond – and it depends which day you ask me!”

“Sometimes it feels as if the last 12 months didn’t happen, particularly as things open up again, and we return to a life that’s a little bit closer to normal. I think a lot of staff will be thinking more and more about their experiences of Covid at the moment, particularly as it is almost impossible to pause and reflect when you are in the thick of it.”

“Working in palliative care, which involves supporting people who are dying or close to death, our small team experienced two things; one, the sad fact that so many patients were dying and two, dealing with the concerns we all had back in March about our own health, particularly at the start of the first wave, when our knowledge of the disease was in its infancy.”

“There is no doubt that I got through the past year as a result of our amazing palliative care team. Because of our roles, we were not re-deployed, so we were able to stay together, which was important for us. In fact, we had staff join us to provide support, which was such a great help, as the volume of work was really overwhelming at times.”

“There were times when I was frightened, and some things were much harder to see than others – such as families not being able to see their relatives. PPE also created an additional physical barrier, which was of course necessary but made it difficult for patients, and staff caring for them.”

“Being able to touch your loved one – and talk to them – is often an integral part of providing holistic care for people who are dying. Everyone worked so hard to put new measures in – such as video calls – but it was still really hard for some people.

“I’ve seen many people upset, and very distressed – this can be difficult to see and hear at times, but the team-work people have shown, and the small acts of kindness you see every day, can also really lift spirits.”

“I’ve relied a lot on my family – and my daughter Tess, who is only eight, made me lots of cards (example below), which was so sweet, and gave me something else to focus on away from work.”

“I think we all learned a lot from the first Covid wave in March – basic things like stepping away, eating healthily etc. I can’t say I do all of these things perfectly now, but I tried much harder to be healthy in the second wave”.