#WeAreTogether: former Reading students supporting health and social care through COVID-1906 August 2020
Former University of Reading students have been using their circumstances to help address the pandemic, including three alumni who have been supporting the NHS and care homes.
University of Reading graduates have been working and volunteering in a range of contexts, ensuring that NHS Trusts can cope with the extraordinary demands of the pandemic, supporting parents facing the pain of miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death, and helping young people make a meaningful difference for local care homes.
The pandemic has placed some of the greatest pressure on the NHS that it has ever faced, and staff including University of Reading graduate Chloe Read have been helping Trusts where their need was greatest.
As Chloe’s training was halted by the pandemic, she was redeployed to projects that really needed her help, including an initiative making Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect frontline medical staff.
Chloe said: “I was helping to manage a project within New Cross Hospital where redeployed staff members have been making PPE. The project began because the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust – which runs three hospitals – were struggling to source visors externally that met the required specifications.
“The Trust employs around 10,000 people, and although not all of these are clinical staff, each clinician has to discard their visor and don a new one between patients – that’s a huge quantity of visors needed.”
Now that the initial peak of the pandemic has passed, Chloe says that the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust is beginning to reintroduce more of their usual activity, while also looking to see what can be learned from initiatives introduced to tackle the virus.
Chloe said: “I am now involved in arranging the consultants’ timetables and clinics, which is very challenging as a lot of the usual work the consultants would be undertaking is still not allowed to go ahead. But slowly, alongside government guidelines, the trust is reintroducing activity, in particular elective activity. Despite the pandemic, we are still expected to follow and meet targets, which is proving difficult with our limited capacity at the moment.”
While many colleagues and services were diverted into other areas to cope with the exceptional demand that COVID-19 placed on the NHS, maternity care had to adapt to continue providing support for expecting parents. To enable midwives to continue caring for patients, while striving to protect all parties from the virus, the Royal Berkshire Hospital (RBH) undertook huge changes.
University of Reading graduate Amy Wood now works at the RBH as a Bereavement Midwife, working alongside maternity colleagues to support families who have sadly suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death.
“We are all still trying our best to deliver these services during COVID-19, but it has undoubtedly had a big impact. For example, just the simple act of having to wear a mask and maintain social distance has been hard when all you want to do is give a comforting smile and an arm around the shoulder. I hope that people can see the compassion shining through our eyes and creeping above the mask instead.
“COVID-19 has been an extremely difficult time for all those working on the frontline, and for all those who have suffered as a result of it. I’m so proud to have been able to continue providing care for my women and their families despite the unprecedented circumstances we are facing.”
A former Human and Physical Geography student, Jack Abrey works for the Scouts Association, where he has been helping young people to make a difference in their local community.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jack was working on the Scouts’ flagship community impact campaign, A Million Hands. Since the lockdown, he has been supporting the organisation to shift their focus to finding creative ways of keeping in touch with the community, and helping where they can.
Jack said: “During the current health crisis, the Scout movement’s usual activity has been affected as much of Scouting is based on being out and about in the community, developing life skills and living out our promise of helping other people.
“Due to the pandemic, we have created the ‘Care for Care Homes’ campaign. This came about as our young people told us that they normally help care homes throughout the year and that COVID-19 shouldn’t stop that from happening.
“We know that care homes are facing an incredibly tough time – from residents falling ill to being painfully separated from their loved ones – Scouts can help improve the wellbeing of residents and reduce their isolation by sending letters, drawing pictures, painting kindness rocks or making video calls with residents.”
Read more about the ‘Care for Care Homes’ initiative.
Read more in CONNECTED, our digital magazine for and about University of Reading alumni.