Updated: Mar 24
Early in the first UK COVID-19 lockdown, it felt as though society was “in it together” more than we had seen in recent years. Whether it was clapping for carers, donating to Sir Tom Moore’s charity fundraising or doing virtual quizzes, there was a feeling of solidarity amongst everybody as we all tried to get through this new situation together.
Fortunately, this attitude was also represented throughout our whole WCM team and within our wider business contacts, with people and bodies across our industry coming together like never before to help one another through this crisis.
We have learnt that we are stronger together as a service perhaps more than we had ever imagined possible. As we rebuild from the damage of COVID-19, we need to rebuild together to ensure future success for as many as possible. There has been some good to come out of the past year, and chief amongst that good is the ongoing growth of trust and relationships.
No mixing of household bubbles meant no shared office space, no client visits unless absolutely necessary, no in-person MDT meetings and very little indoor space sharing of any kind, even within our own service.
This meant that WCM had to react quickly and adopt practices and innovations that many had probably not envisioned happening in our sector for many more years, if at all. Digital communication quickly became the norm. Whether the platform of choice was Zoom or Microsoft Teams or perhaps a combination of them all, we suddenly had no choice but to get on board and make sure that our team was part of the digital world!
There may have been some bumps along the road, but we quickly learned how easy it can be to join online meetings. We saw into each other’s homes for the first time, even if only through a window the size of a webcam lens!
We have learned that sometimes adversity can be an accelerant, rather than a diversion. For many staff within our team, these past 12 months have accelerated a move towards more digital and effective remote working which started as a necessity and now can face head-on with confidence.
Infection Control Implications
One thing we learned early into the pandemic was that being near one another, especially in large groups, had to be avoided wherever possible. Understandably, this created big challenges!
The initial composition of risk assessment for the virus and its implementation was genuinely frightening. Onboarding support teams with these practicalities and processes, providing as much genuine security as we could in the face of many unknown anxieties has been one of the most challenging times of our working lives.
The WCM office had to be closed for months and adapted for the gradual return of staff. Travelling to meet clients, staff, MDT members or associates became quickly ruled out. Our office team learned to adapt and utilise new forms of communication and working to maintain their roles from a safe distance! So, WCM learned to adapt. Modern technology and good old-fashioned ingenuity were combined to provide solutions to the many barriers that were raised.
In the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic, reports of stockpiling and shortages of key items were rife across the whole of society, as well as specifically within healthcare. This was especially so for Personal Protective Equipment, PPE!
As we moved through the past year, the nature of lockdowns became somewhat more normalised and we learned how to lessen the impact of these events occurring through quality planning and established procurement routes. A level of patience, understanding and co-operation has also grown, as we all came to realise the unique factors that played into these early problems and how to avoid them moving forward.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
With coronavirus lockdowns forcing us all into our homes with little chance for socialising, the need to focus on mental wellbeing has been more important than ever before. Not only have we been restricted from socialising with friends and family outside the workspace, but in the communal aspects of a workplace, which are vitally important to maintaining social bonds and encouraging social support.
Mental health check-ins have become more widespread throughout WCM in recent years, and a real effort has been made since 2020 to ensure that this always becomes a core focus.
More than ever in the last year we have learned that it is as vital for us to check in on our staff, as it is for staff to speak up of their own accord. Providing resources for the betterment of staff is the morally right thing to do and will lead to better workplace morale (whether that workplace is remote or in the office), better job satisfaction levels, and less time off and will help achieve a greater level of health and wellbeing amongst staff.
To summarise; we have learnt at WCM that we are agile, adaptable, innovative and embracing change. We are moral and supportive. We have a culture of kindness in our team.
Maybe the most important and perhaps harshest lesson, which the past year must have taught us all, is the value of life itself. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of cherishing those around us, especially our family members, friends and work colleagues. If we are to learn anything from this experience, we need to embrace who we have, not what we have
Westcountry Case Management