My name is Katy Welsh and I am a Primary Care Liaison Team Manager in Learning Disabilities services.
My typical day starts at 9am, checking my inbox for the tsunami of emails that seem to appear overnight! This is followed by a COVID-19 call with senior managers in Learning Disability services so that I can be informed of any new updates and changes in practice that have come about as a result of the current pandemic. Prior to coronavirus, I would have regular contact with our team with visits to bases for supervisions and other meetings, but I have had to adapt to a more virtual way of maintaining connections.
As well as providing advice and support regarding physical health needs for people with learning disabilities to wider stakeholders, I have also been involved in doing a few face to face welfare visits to people with learning disabilities and complex health needs during this time. Availability of PPE has been crucial to ensure not only my own safety, but to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to clients who are at significantly greater risk of developing the virus. Other non-direct clinical work still has to be done too, including supervisions, Safeguarding Enquiries and complaints. Being available to the wider service for advice and support regarding physical health is something I have been able to offer. I miss the face to face contact with my peers and team members but know that this won’t be forever and is a necessary measure to protect us all.
I don’t know whether I have made a difference on an individual basis during these times but would like to think that working with my nursing colleagues across the service, there has undoubtedly been a positive difference for people with learning disabilities and their families.
Developing COVID-19 Care Plans and COVID Hospital Passports has been an undertaking that nurses have actively been involved with (along with the wider learning disability team members), ensuring that those with the most complex health needs are as safe as they can be in the current circumstances.
I have always been a firm advocate of networking and actually talking to people. I think there is often an over-reliance on emails as a form of sharing information. Whilst emails have their place, you cannot beat picking up the phone and talking to a real person or making the time to arrange a Skype or Microsoft Teams meeting. I am also a pretty good ‘resource investigator’. I (along with a number of my colleagues) tap into some great websites and networks where information regarding people with learning disabilities has been shared. I think the biggest form of flattery is for someone to replicate your work (aka plagiarism!). I like to avoid duplication of work where possible and share good practice across the service.
I hope that my colleagues would say I am supportive and would always try and help out where I can. The pandemic has shown that by us all working together, we can indeed achieve more than working in isolation.
During these times I have learnt how much I miss the human connection with peers and team colleagues on a daily basis. Whilst Skype and Microsoft Teams allows us to ‘see’ each other, it is still a very 2D experience for me. However, that said, I am sure that once the pandemic is over, we, as a team, will consider how we undertake supervisions and team meetings in the future. I am sure that as our confidence in virtual technology grows during this time, our need to physically sit in the same room as each other, travelling from all corners of Devon will not be necessary on such a regular basis, thus reducing travel time and cost and reducing the organisation’s carbon footprint.
My piece of advice during this time is to be kind to yourself! I think we are all feeling overwhelmed in our day jobs and also in our personal lives. Social media can be a double-edged sword, providing us with the means to stay connected but it can also be a vehicle to fuel anxieties too. Take time for yourself and try and switch off however you might do that.
Above all, remind yourselves that this pandemic will pass. Take care and stay safe!