National Day of Reflection – three years on from lockdown
To mark the third anniversary of lockdown and the National Day of Reflection on 23 March, we are looking back on CLCH’s role in responding to and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
From providing support in care homes to redeploying staff to completely different roles, teams across the Trust had to adapt the way they work during the pandemic to deliver care for our patients and communities.
Throughout February-March 2020, three of our sites transformed into community testing hubs for COVID-19, offering ‘drive through’ coronavirus testing. In November 2020 the CLCH Academy was appointed the lead provider for COVID vaccination training for North West London ICS, and since COVID-19 vaccinations became available in December 2020, we’ve played a lead role protecting our staff and communities with tens of thousands of COVID-19 vaccinations delivered to date.
As we all learned to live with COVID-19, our attention turned towards supporting those members of our communities who are still living with the lasting effects of the virus. We also played a lead role in helping healthcare professionals to better understand how to support patients experiencing symptoms of Long Covid through the development of e-learning modules.
We currently run post-COVID assessment services for residents living with symptoms of Long Covid in Barnet, Wandsworth, Merton, Brent, Harrow, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Hertfordshire. Most of our services offer patient sessions virtually to reduce barriers to access, but offer an in-person option where this is required.
The services provide support with fatigue management and breathlessness, give self-management advice on sleep, physical activity and diet, and offer psychological support to cope with the effects of the illness. They offer patients a holistic service closer to home with input from a range of healthcare professionals, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists and rehabilitation assistants.
Each service works closely with partners across primary care, specialist care and mental health to make sure patients get the most appropriate support for their needs. Many also work with the community and voluntary sector to provide direct referrals to social prescribing programmes like the English National Opera Breathe programme, Voices of Hope and local exercise and spiritual centres.
Helping healthcare professionals better understand Long COVID
In 2021, NHS England (London) commissioned the development and delivery of deliver two new education packages to support staff across London (particularly in primary care and community services) to increase their knowledge in relation to Long COVID and Post COVID syndrome. The CLCH Academy led this exciting piece of work with a number of key stakeholders.
The two modules developed and launched included an e-Learning introductory session on Long COVID and Post COVID syndrome. The 30-minute session explains what we mean by long COVID and post-COVID-19 syndrome, the common signs and symptoms, and provides a basic guide on suggested investigations, assessment and initial management. The module also looks at the impact of long COVID on health inequalities. The second programme is a more advanced module.
Throughout the pandemic, CLCH staff have continued to play a vital role in supporting our communities to live with COVID-19. As we reflect on the third anniversary of lockdown, we remember all the people we have lost to COVID-19 and take the opportunity to connect with others. Visit mariecurie.org.uk/day-of-reflection to find out more, or call the Marie Curie Support Line on 0800 090 2309 for practical and emotional support about grief and bereavement, whatever your situation.