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Staying connected in a disconnected world

How to be connected is a question at the front of many peoples’ minds at the moment. How do we keep in contact when we can’t physically be in the same location as our friends, families and colleagues?

As a community healthcare provider, keeping connected across different locations has been part of what we do. We deliver care from GP surgeries, people’s homes and local hospitals across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and we're able to communicate as one trust, even though our teams and colleagues aren't just in one location. These skills have certainly proven useful over the past few weeks!

Solent NHS Trust has been delivering Schwartz Rounds for over a year. For people who aren't familiar with Schwartz Rounds, they are a structured forum where all staff can come together to discuss the emotional elements of working in healthcare. As a Research Nurse with a huge passion for workforce well-being, being part of the team who supports a well evidenced well-being intervention is pretty cool. What's even cooler is seeing and hearing that they really do work and impact people’s lives for the better.

As so many people have became physically "disconnected," the need for being virtually connected has increased. As a trust we might have nailed the keeping virtually connected bit with laptops, mobiles and all kinds of new software, but what about being connected on a human level?

Almost as quickly as Covid-19 developed Sally Gray, Psychological Wellbeing Integrated Pathways Manager for Solent West, and Georgina Mayes, Integrated Locality Manager for Southampton Central 0-19 Early Help and Prevention, led and prioritised Schwartz-style reflection as one of the ways that Solent could support workforce well-being. Both Sally and Georgina are highly experienced as Schwartz Rounds facilitators, but have attended additional training with the Point of Care Foundation so that they can deliver virtual Schwartz Rounds called Team Time. Team Time is a Schwartz-style structured digital forum that has been specifically adapted to the workforce sensitivities of Covid-19.

On Thursday 23rd April, Sally and Georgina delivered the Trust’s first virtual Team Time entitled ‘in the midst,’ and it was a big success with more than 70 staff joining, making it our biggest ever round. I was bursting with pride for Sally and Georgina as they expertly and sensitively balanced stories shared by video, and experiences within the chat box too. It was so powerful to hear people from all kinds of different roles, and from many different places, share their emotions, and a lot of what was shared resonated with those who had joined the forum.

As I sat on Zoom I thought about just how many people work within the Trust, and I tried to imagine how many different locations we might all be in; dispersed and spread out across our communities. As well as the frontline nurses and teams, I thought of all of the allied health professionals, administrative staff, porters, domestic staff, kitchen staff, people shielding at home and many many more who make up a healthcare team. I thought that whilst each role might be different, they are all equal in importance and united by emotion.

It then occurred to me that whilst we might be disconnected in so many ways, we are all connected by our emotions, by the fact that we are all people just doing our best. As someone shared during the rounds: ‘we're all just ordinary people doing extraordinary things.’


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