Working from home without seeing patients is a strange experience when your job is usually clinically based. I work as a Speech and Language Therapist in Glasgow Royal Infirmary, but at present I am working at home during the COVID-19 outbreak. This short blog is a reflection of my first days working from home, before I had remote access to the systems I normally use for work.
Today I did a risk assessment on my DSE. I use a desktop Mac and I also have an iPad. I think my seating is safe (adjustable, back support), but if I were at work I’d not be sitting on it all day, so I’ve been getting uncomfortable. I switch positions a lot, and change chairs – heading into the kitchen to use my iPad so I can use a different chair and prevent back and shoulder pain.
Structuring the Day
My main focus in these first days of working from home has been CPD. I’ve been looking at the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) website, and have been following links from there, and also from Twitter. Rummaging around learnpro and using links that have piqued my interest in the past have helped me split the day up into more manageable chunks.
I’ve found that sitting at the computer all day is uncomfortable, and is way out of my comfort zone. My usual job is ward based in a large general hospital so I’m usually very active during the day. I’ve been trying to find youtube and podcast links that I can watch or listen to from the couch, and intersperse them through the day.
This is important. When at our workplaces we have natural breaks in our working day. The minutes between patients, switching from direct contact to note-writing, discussion with colleagues, walking from one ward to another all help us split up our days. At home we could easily sit in the same position for 8 hours straight. It’s not good for the body, the eyes or the concentration to do that though. So as well as switching tasks, positions and locations, I’ve been doing short meditations, playing with the cats, having a little dance to the radio, 5 minute yoga, and once each day going outside to get my permitted exercise. I’ve still not found the perfect balance, but I’m OK with that.
I’ve downloaded a Pomodoro app to remind me to take breaks – just a glorified timer that you can set to remind you to take a break every so often. I find 25 mins work followed 5-10 mins break works for me with a couple of longer ones for lunch and coffee added into the mix.
Being OK with What Is
Finally, I’m learning to accept that it’s OK not to be OK just now, and getting something done is better than not doing it at all, however unproductive I might feel. CPD time when administered in large doses can feel mind-numbing. Spending a whole day at a computer without access to NHS systems is almost impossible.
Working solo is tricky when you’re used to working with a large team of SLTs and other professionals. I’m used to bouncing things off my colleagues, discussing any projects or developments as I go along. It will be good to work together using the Teams app, but it’s not the same as sitting in a room together and being able to chat about things informally as you go along. Home and office working are very different and this is all new to all of us, so let’s give ourselves some slack!
It’s good to remember that all this learning will have a positive effect for me and the department after the pandemic is over. And I’m OK with that.
After I had written this reflection, I received remote access to the NHS computer system, got my access to Teams and the Home Working lead SLT started video conferencing calls for our team to keep in touch. Things are easier now, and having regular email and video calls with my colleagues means that I am feeling much more productive and connected to my colleagues.
As I am not working clinically at present, my current role seems to have morphed into an unofficial digital champion. As I’m able to access materials on the NHS system I’ve started writing and designing our service website! I’ve used twitter for informal learning and have set up a wakelet blog which will be used to share interesting links with my colleagues. I’ve attended NES webinars supporting digital ways of working – utilizing Near Me and Microsoft Teams. I’ve also watched webinars from RCSLT on telehealth and listened to podcasts about how they have developed digital practice. I’ve been interested to learn about how to use teleconferencing with different client groups and how to make it work, this has made me think about new ways of working with carers and the MDT as well as directly with our clients. And naturally, I’ve been reading about COVID-19.
Links to learning:
SLT Near Me – https://vimeo.com/409863644
Wakelet platform – http://wakelet.com
RCSLT COVID information: https://www.rcslt.org/learning/covid-19
Aphasia webinars from LaTrobe University – https://www.latrobe.edu.au/research/centres/health/aphasia/resources
Fight Fatigue Resources: anaesthetists.org/Home/Wellbeing-support/Fatigue/-Fight-Fatigue-download-our-information-packs
Donna Swabey – Speech and Language Therapist, Glasgow Royal Infirmary.