18 May 2020

Virtual Carers’ Event

Applause for the Forensic Service 

The Forensic directorate are delighted to have started hosting virtual carers’ events using a virtual video conferencing platform. Carers had been anxious to hear how staff were managing the COVID19 outbreak and what impact it had had on the care for their loved ones. There have been two online events so far. On 23rd April we were joined by over 30 professionals and carers from both Wolfson House and the John Howard Centre. On 7th May there was also over 30 attendees. The first call closed with an unexpected round of applause for the staff’s response to the pandemic.

Dr Phil Baker (Head of Forensics) gave an overview of the steps that the management response team, known as Silver response, have taken to keep people safe during COVID19. Their strategy is depicted in the ‘driver diagram‘ below (Figure 1). The follow up meeting….

Carers were delighted to hear that staff are maintaining good hygiene practices, that PPE and testing is available and that teams continue to ensure care plans are service user centered. Dr Baker said, “some carers had feared a much bigger outbreak in our centre. We emphasised we are not out of the woods yet, but the steps we have taken so far have really helped. Quite possibly they have saved lives.”

Alison O’Reilly (Head of Occupational Therapy) and Sophie Akehurst (People Participation Lead) explained to carers how the teams are helping people engage in meaningful activity and adapt to the change in routine. Carers were informed that all wards have had tablets purchased and video contact with relatives is a priority for the directorate.

Carers expressed that the focus must be on the service users’ mental health at this difficult time. They wanted to know when service users could resume Section 17 leave; have visitors and travel to identify accommodation providers.  Management do not know when these changes can happen and are following government guidelines. Keeping COVID19 infection rates low is their top priority.  Forensics were able to reassure carers and staff that this is reviewed weekly and planning has already begun to remove some restrictions as soon as possible.

At the second virtual event, one of the carers led a discussion about setting up smaller peer support group. Using Quality Improvement methods, this will be tested out on a small scale and the learning shared with other directorates.

Many thanks to Denis Thompson, Salina Khan, Joseph Cottrell-Boyce, Clare Bingham, Rakhee Haque, Ken James, Day Njovana and Natalie Waghorn for facilitating both events.  Mayuri Parmar and Fiza Wafa are doing a great organisational job, demonstrating how services are learning how to operate digitally at great pace!

The messages of thanks to all staff have been incredibly touching.  ‘Clissold’, ‘Ludgate’ and ‘Aldgate’ Wards were celebrated and relatives also made positive comments without naming the wards.  It was lovely to hear how much the relentless hard work is appreciated by the loved ones of those who the directorate care for.

At the end of the first call there was even a spontaneous round of applause from carers for NHS professionals. Staff on the call were truly touched by this.  For colleagues who couldn’t be on the call, please listen out for the NHS clap on Thursday evenings.  It really is meant for you!







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