Change Is Going To Come
Change has been the theme of the last 16 months for myself and many other colleagues across health and social care. Working in healthcare I’m very used to being flexible and having to adapt, but having been redeployed twice in the space of 10 months I struggled to return to my “own job”, a job that now shares little resemblance to the job I left in March 2020. This flexibility and adaptability no more obvious than the way our Pulmonary Rehabilitation service has continued to evolve since our first virtual class recommenced in June 2020.
“Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is a treatment programme that can help you to stay active if you have a lung condition” (BLF,2020). Knowing the difference a valuable service such as PR makes, not only to the physical fitness but also the mental well-being of our patients, it was a priority to me to provide a service to those helping fight our battle, by doing as they were asked and shielding at home. Across NHS Dumfries & Galloway group classes were cancelled. Outpatient clinics cancelled. A change of venue was required. Cue several weeks of planning, countless risk assessments, some creative use of the technology available and our home PR programme was born. The model has provided a valuable service not only for those with chronic lung conditions, it allowed us to provide support to some of those most in need of rehab following admissions with covid-19. An MDT brought to the patient’s own home at a time when “stay home, save lives” was being ingrained into the minds of everyone across the nation.
Just as our first groups finished their 6 week programme, I successfully applied and was awarded an NES AHP Career Fellowship. Undertaking this project as an AHP Career Fellow has given me time and support to delve into personal and quality improvement, from my local mentor, NES and also the other AHP’s also completing this year’s Fellowship. It has allowed me to develop skills across the 4 pillars of practice all while bringing change to a service in a way that would never have come about but for a global pandemic calling a halt to life as we knew it. With dedicated sessions throughout the year and a forum for discussions it has given me confidence to undertake quality improvement but also in non clinical skills which are equally as valuable in any role in healthcare including research and leadership.
Skip forward to July 2021, Pulmonary rehab has returned to a face to face service in our region, although numbers in the room for group classes remain limited by ongoing Covid restrictions. However, the changes brought about by the pandemic have led to our service being able to offer greater patient choice. We have integrated our virtual services within a face to face class, allowing patients at home to take part from home while others are in the room. This gives our patients access to the same support and education if the distance is 5 metres or 100 miles. It also enables those taking part to learn from each other as well as healthcare professionals without the time and cost of travel, the anxiety regarding covid following shielding and for those who are unable to leave their home for any number of reasons.
While this is still very much a test of change at present, we are learning and adapting every week, a number of staff have joined the class virtually to better understand from the perspective of our patients. Born from the ashes of the first wave of the pandemic, this project started as an idea when our hand was forced, but it has grown
wings and is now learning to fly. We have all been victims of Covid in one way or another but let us use that to make us stronger and better. Let us rise from the adversity Covid-19 brought upon us and make changes for the benefits of our patients, by constantly striving for better. Anyone can make a change and if at first you don’t succeed; reflect, evaluate, change and try again!