Dr Kelvin Lim, Clinical Director of PICS, spoke to staff at the virtual staff conference on Wednesday 10 June, as part of the first virtual all-staff multi-disciplinary team meeting. 80 staff members joined in with a packed agenda over two hours, spending most of the time sharing experiences of delivering services and supporting clinicians since the start of the coronavirus response.

Dr Lim said:

“I’m really grateful for all of the support from PICS staff. I know it’s been difficult. I’m incredibly proud to be working at PICS, because I think we’ve risen to all the challenges and continued to provide great care to all our patients. We’ve shown that we can continue to hold dear to our values of excellent patient care and of making patients the centre of everything we do.

We’ve learned how to work differently, and we’ve learned a lot more about ourselves and our patients. I don’t think we’ll go back to practising medicine the way things used to be. We will have to do things slightly differently, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing – there are lots of good things to take out of this.

I am immensely proud to be part of an organisation that is so flexible, adaptable, and reactive. It’s really impressive how PICS has come together and colleagues have supported each other. I know there is lots of anxiety, so it’s important we continue to be supportive as we continue to go through this difficult time together.”

The agenda

Before the event ended, Alison Rounce, PICS Managing Director and host of the event, invited two colleagues, Jessica Waterhouse and Wendy Berridge to share their story of how they have supported care homes in Nottingham West throughout the coronavirus outbreak. Now COVID-free, staff and residents in care homes were in crisis, with staff numbers reduced by sickness, shielding and isolation by sometimes 60 per cent. The remaining staff had to do more for the patients as the doors were closed to both visitors and non-urgent healthcare staff, and the Government and safety guidance flooded in by the day, unfiltered and from many directions. The PICS team provided urgent and acute support and the feedback from the sector has been brilliant. Wendy and Jessica demonstrated proactive problem solving, agility in tough circumstances, and inspirational joint working involving the PCNs, and community groups and local business. More about this project and how the PCNs supported PICS to deliver it will be available soon.

A quiz started the event off which helped show staff how to use the virtual tools to comment and participate. Soon after, we met colleagues who had joined PICS since April.

Dr Natalie Salimi, Lead Clinical Psychologist in the PICS Pain Team, then took us through the science and reasoning behind spending time on personal wellbeing, explaining how caring for ourselves enables us to continue to care for others. Dr Salimi also took participants through The express computer workout which is a simple and easy way to manage anxiety or breathlessness.

A highlight of the session was a focus on #20minutecarespace, an innovative, proven technique for improving self-care using a virtual space to host a session with a group of staff, supported by a trained and experienced facilitator. A PICS in-house support service for staff, it offers individuals time to reflect on current challenges and contributes to building a compassion-focused culture at work, reflecting our support for patient-centred compassionate care. It’s a brilliant way to spend time reconnecting with our core values, considering self-compassion, and devising a plan for maintaining personal wellbeing. Many colleagues have already attended a voluntary session and the feedback has been incredibly positive. More staff were encouraged to sign up to a session, and to look at the bespoke wellbeing resource area on the intranet for more ways to help improve their wellbeing.

This wonderful focus on wellbeing was then followed by Richard Barnes, Advanced Practitioner Physiotherapist in the PICS Pain Team, who led us through a series of specially designed exercises to help relieve tension and reduce the aches and pains from sitting at your desk.

Stuart Woolley, IT Coordinator, closely followed with a five minute focus on emerging technology to help improve productivity and cross-collaboration.

Experience and lessons to take forward

Ali Sutherland, Clinical Services Lead, took the video microphone to host a series of narratives from colleagues in community services and out of hospital services, sharing their experiences of working during the pandemic so far. The responses from attendees was brilliant, with many sharing supportive comments via the live-stream message board.

Paula Banbury, Pain Clinical Lead, then took colleagues through the Pain Team’s response to a series of strategic questions that the whole of PICS has been tasked with discussing at teams and feeding back to the leadership team, and then Ali discussed this in more detail, encouraging all staff to think about what we might want to go back to and what we might want to move away from as we stabilise coming out of the first phase of the coronavirus pandemic.