Student Allied Health Professionals say they are grateful for experience of working at UHMBT during COVID-19 pandemic

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) is delighted that an additional 46 second year student nurses, six student physiotherapists, seven student occupational therapists (OTs) and nine student radiographers have joined the Trust on work placement to help with the coronavirus (COVID-19) response.

Overall this year UHMBT has welcomed 68 third year student nurses, 47 second year student nurses, four third year undergraduate OTs, three fourth year undergraduate OTs, four second year postgraduate physiotherapists, two first year postgraduate physiotherapists and one third year undergraduate physiotherapist on work placement. Six physiotherapists have started Band Five jobs early with the Trust.

Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) such as physiotherapists, OTs and radiographers, have been playing a major role in enabling patients to recover and return home after COVID-19 and the students are supporting this work.

Duncan Carr, a student physiotherapist, said he was keen to embrace the challenges and unique experiences of working during a pandemic. He said he was initially nervous but had received a very warm welcome at the Trust.

Duncan, 30, who is from Wilmslow in Cheshire and now lives in Lancaster, is on placement with the Trust’s ‘Community Therapy and Rehabilitation Service’ based at Slyne Road in Lancaster. He attends the University of Cumbria and is on the first year of an MSc in Physiotherapy.

Duncan said: “I wanted to be on work placement for Morecambe Bay Trust as it would allow me to help the local community that I am a part of.

“I have had excellent support from the Trust with every member of staff I have met without exception being incredibly kind, helpful and welcoming.

“I would like to say a particular thank you to everyone in the community rehab team who are such as talented and kind group of people. They have made me very welcome in their team.”

Duncan said his main duties are to assess patients with a range of physical conditions that are affecting their mobility and daily living. He can also prescribe exercises and advice to help patients in their recovery. He works closely with OTs and technical instructors to arrange mobility aids and adaptions to patients’ homes to enable them to regain their functional abilities.

Duncan said: “It is challenging working with patients with full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on, both when you're donning PPE while maintaining social distancing and due to the fact that they cannot see your face. However, all the patients I have met so far have appreciated the efforts we are making to keep them safe and they have learned to adapt to the new way of working.”

Duncan said his family is proud of him and his approach to caring for patients is to treat everyone with consideration and respect.

He said: “In the current situation the elderly and frail patients that we are working with can be particularly isolated and lonely so I also try to be very clear when talking to them and be as positive as possible.”

Duncan thanked colleagues working in the NHS and said he would like to work for the Trust one day: “To everyone generally in the NHS I would like to say a big thank you for your efforts and I think it is very impressive the way you have adapted to the new situation.”

Abbey Travis, a student Occupational Therapist (OT), said she was grateful to have the opportunity to work for the Trust during the pandemic and to learn from it.

Abbey, 21, is from Kendal and attends the University of Cumbria in Carlisle. Abbey is currently on placement with the Trust’s ‘Home First’ and ‘Discharge to Assess’ teams at the Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal. She said she wanted to return to UHMBT as she had previously been on placement with the Trust and had enjoyed it immensely.

Abbey said: “Working within this difficult time can be challenging, however, it has been such a great experience for me to have as a student and which I am grateful for.  

“I believe I have been able to adapt to the changes and will take the knowledge that I have gained during this time and apply it to my future practice. The staff work so hard and effectively. I also respect the Trust’s values.

“My family are friends are so grateful that I have been given this opportunity to work in this pandemic. They had their concerns for my health while working and being at risk, however, were reassured when I explained the support that the Trust has provided me with and the amount of PPE that I have had access to.”

Abbey has been working with colleagues to see if patients who are medically fit for discharge can return home safely. This can involve providing equipment and/or putting a package of care in place.

Abbey explained: “I do an assessment to see how the person is mobilising around their property and issue equipment which will enable them to be as independent as they can. If a person needs support, for example with meals, personal care or medication, the OTs will put a service called ‘Hospital Home Care’ in place that will start the same day. Depending on the person’s needs, carers can come up to four times a day. After the first few days a referral is made for continuing care.”

Abbey said she hopes to work for the Trust in the future and added: “All the people who are working for the NHS and care organisations at the moment are doing such an amazing job; they deserve huge credit for this.” 

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