What next for our vaccine volunteers?
I have watched the NHS’s Covid-19 vaccination programme rollout across England with fascination and admiration, and can only come to one conclusion… the success of this programme should be attributed not only to the management of the NHS in ensuring our communities are vaccinated against the virus, but we should also be shouting about the sacrifice and commitment shown by our volunteer workforces, who have given their time and skills to ensure that so many vaccinations can be given at fantastic speed.
Of course, the volunteer ‘army’ at each vaccination centre goes beyond those actually administering the vaccines (some of whom may be volunteer roles, whilst some are clinical workers), but includes those directing people where to go, helping to manage car parks, completing administrative checks, and so much more. Each role is absolutely essential to ensuring that we are all protected against the affects of the coronavirus, and helping to return the country to eventual normality.
But what comes next? Once the rollout to all adults in England ends in the summer, what will happen to this volunteer base?
Whilst it is understandable that some will want or need to stand down once the “big job” is complete, there is a real opportunity for the NHS to utilise the biggest volunteer force seen in England since the second World War and have them help maintain the momentum of goodwill and community spirit which brought people together through the pandemic, and redeploy them to community support or ongoing vaccination efforts.
NHS staff continue to be under immense daily strain, and so volunteer coordinators should be considering options to use the willing volunteer force to ease some of this with befriending, admin or generalised tasks both onsite and in the community that can help to lift the burden slightly. Not only will this help our workforces, but will have a positive impact on patients too.
So as the vaccine juggernaut rolls on, and begins to reach its destination, we say a huge thank you to the volunteers who have supported it, and look forward to seeing where these selfless people assist our communities next as we continue towards recovery.
Danielle Gavin, Account Director – Midlands, Liaison Workforce
Who judges the success of your ICS?
Who judges whether your ICS is performing successfully? Is it your senior management team? The government? Or maybe the workforce transitioning to a new working structure?
In a recent blog post for NHS Confederation, GP Helen Davies argues that the only people who can deem the success of your ICS are the service users themselves. Using the measures of integrated care, the patient is the only one who can say whether their experiences are collaborative and a true reflection of integrated care.
As such, your senior management team should consider the end user in every decision made. You might already do so, but is this being measured and checked? As Davies states, “The new joined-up way of working presents a huge opportunity to do things differently; to put together an end-to-end personalised care journey.”
Not many opportunities arise to build new ways of working that benefit patients, and ICS leaders should grasp this opportunity with both hands. There will be budgetary restraints, resistance to change and red tape to fight through, but this is the chance to make a real difference. By keeping the patient in mind and seeking to advance their overall patient experience, can we together transform the NHS for its ongoing improvement?
Andrew Armitage, Group CEO, Liaison Group
Discharge to assess adding to the burden of CHC backlogs
Since Continuing Healthcare (CHC) services returned to ‘normality’ following the Covid-19 pandemic, CCGs have worked tirelessly to reduce the CHC backlog created during the suspension.
However, more recently, some CCGs have found that discharge to assess continues to divert valuable CHC resources and therefore potential backlogs on routine work are growing again.
Discharge to assess, “where people who are clinically optimised and do not require an acute hospital bed, but may still require care services, are provided with short term, funded support to be discharged to their own home or another community setting”, proved to be a vital service during the pandemic, allowing those who could be to be moved out of hospital settings at a time when beds were desperately needed for those suffering with Covid-19.
With the service now being funded going forward too, and the focus switching firmly to addressing elective care backlogs, CHC teams are one valuable source of staffing to keep bed occupancy and length of stay to optimum levels. Of course, as we see individuals and their families whose CHC assessments may once again be caught in the backlog, with potential for both clinical and financial concerns to remain unaddressed for an extended period, CCGs may need to recruit and train further staff, or make use of agency staff, to try and clear backlogs whilst also managing further incoming assessments.
Neither outcome is ideal or wanted. Families and individuals are trapped in worrying situations, whilst CCGs spend unnecessary funds trying to keep up whilst often providing less standardised services to those who need it most. As such, there is a concern that CHC staff could end up suffering burnout or disillusionment with the process, and there is talk of many leaving the service when their expertise is needed most.
We applaud all those CHC teams across the country working flat out to provide as much as they can, and being asked to do still more, and we remain on hand to offer support and capacity to assist, with a team of trained and experienced CHC specialists who can help ease some of that backlog burden.
To find out more, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Phil Church, Managing Director, Liaison Care
News & Views
- The HSJ has released a guide on how ICSs can secure the best outcomes for local populations; looking at getting integrated care systems right, the need to engage and connecting to the third sector.
- Sir Jim Mackey, Chief Executive (OKR) at the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, has published a new blog post: Staff wellbeing was never just a pandemic issue
- Gill Morgan, newly elected chair of the recently established ICS Network Advisorate, has written about her vision for the Advisorate and its role in making ICSs happen: Let’s hardwire difference into the ICS World