Coral Bailey is a healthcare assistant who usually works in Sexual Health. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Coral volunteered to join a new team at our Trust called ‘Helping Hands’. The team are made up of nursing staff who usually work in areas such as Outpatients and Day Surgery. They have volunteered to help ward staff by giving hands-on patient care. The support has been hugely appreciated by ward staff. We spoke to Coral to find out more about her role in the team:
“In my usual role within the Sexual Health team, I support with keeping the department stocked, chaperoning and cleaning. Also, we see a lot of walk-in patients, so often my main role will be to carry out screenings for patients who are not showing any symptoms and I can be quite busy doing this.
“During the pandemic the service moved to a single location at Barking Hospital. We are now running lots of telephone consultations and are still open for patients to collect medication and contraceptives, including emergency contraceptives. We’ve reduced the number of staff in the service, so I was asked if I would join the Helping Hands team which I was happy to do.
“The last time I worked on a ward was ten years ago on Cornflower B ward. My matron while I was there is my matron now which has been really nice as she’s a very caring person. Some of the nurses in the Helping Hands team haven’t worked on a ward in 20 years and I think everyone has done remarkably well; it has been a learning curve for us all.
“We go to different wards each day to help patients with washing, eating and drinking. We also do some cleaning, keep the wards stocked and carry out observations so it’s a very varied role. Everyone has been so lovely and the wards are really grateful for the help.
“I’m enjoying spending time talking to patients. It can be really difficult, particularly for some of our elderly patients, to not have any visitors.
“I’m 68, and I do sometimes find the work tiring, however it’s still doable. You don’t have to do anything beyond your physical strength and we pair up and ask another member of the team or ward staff for help if we need it. We’re doing lots of walking visiting the wards each day. We keep saying we should wear pedometers – it’s surprising how many steps you do in a day!”