Colin Kinloch, Trust Funding Director, Guy's and St Thomas' Charity
Dec 18, 2020
The bicentenary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, our Trust’s most famous daughter, has been the most challenging of years. None of us asked for this pandemic, but its outbreak only served to reinforce the core reasons why we exist as the charity for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust: to improve the experience of the Trust’s patients, enhance the clinical environment and – more crucially than ever this year – ensure that we do as much as we can to look after those that have made it their work to look after us. We could not be prouder of the opportunities we have had to support this remarkable Trust.
COVID-19 brought with it new, stricter processes for routine procedures. We funded a project to train Trust staff to follow enhanced infection control guidelines. With our support, the Simulation and Interactive Learning Centre secured state-of-the-art patient simulators and airway training manikins and recorded teaching sessions that could be live-streamed and used in e-learning.
Due to restrictions on visitors, many patients missed out on essential items that their families or carers would usually bring to them. To help make this unusual time slightly easier for patients we made sure the Patient Experience Team were able to provide amenity kits containing basic toiletries and mobile phone chargers. For patients at long stay units, the team provided activity packs containing arts and craft materials, puzzles and books to alleviate anxiety, loneliness and boredom that could result from the pause on visits.
We also worked to ensure patients at Guy’s Cancer Centre could continue to receive world-class care whilst keeping them safe from exposure to COVID-19. The Prostate Cancer Support group usually met at the hospital, but our backing allowed the group to continue to meet virtually, allowing men and their families to continue to receive peer support, stress management advice and join Q&A sessions with clinicians.
We also partnered with St John’s Ambulance to offer patients receiving chemotherapy essential blood tests closer to where they live. Mobile treatment centres were set up in Clapham, Elephant and Castle and Beckenham, ensuring patients with compromised immune systems could still receive vital pre-treatment checks. After a successful pilot these mobile units will now run for at least another year serving patients across South London.
We know that homeless patients experience some of the most extreme health inequalities. We extended our support to a project providing legal advice and representation to homeless patients of the Trust for a second year. Homeless patients often face long-standing legal challenges that can have a profound effect on their health, and our partnership with the Southwark Law Centre has resulted in a number of patients having their immigration status regularised, refugee status being granted or getting access Universal Credit.
This year, staff at the Trust have worked tirelessly to care for patients from across London and South East England. At the very start of the pandemic, when we received reports that hospital staff were struggling to visit supermarkets and buy basic groceries, we worked with partners including Team Rubicon to quickly build pop-up shops providing colleagues with free emergency essentials, including toilet roll and pasta, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables from Borough Market.
For many years, a core part our funding has been for the Trust’s staff wellbeing programme, Showing We Care About You. We have significantly expanded it this year to address the impact of the pandemic. In March, we funded wellbeing zones at sites across the Trust – non-clinical spaces where staff could rest, use a massage chair, enjoy free refreshments and access wellbeing advice. Since opening, they have received over 6,000 visits, showing how essential and valued they are. Building on the feedback we’ve received from users, with the team at Essentia, the Trust’s facilities division, we are now making them permanent fixtures.
Evidence shows that healthcare workers experience high levels of stress, anxiety and other mental health conditions in the period following pandemics and other traumatic events. With this in mind, we have also funded a comprehensive package of spiritual and psychological support, led by the Trust’s head of spiritual healthcare and the lead psychologist for staff wellbeing. This includes specific funding for the Spiritual Health Care team to provide additional support for colleagues who have experienced bereavement.
We have been grimly reminded this year of the racial inequalities that permeate our society. The disparities witnessed in the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 for Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities (BAME) has shone a spotlight on the contribution structural racism makes to deepening health inequalities.
Members of Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities have been affected by higher rates of mortality from COVID-19, and this can have a greater impact on the psychological wellbeing of BAME staff. This is why we have funded a BAME Access Psychologist as part of our package of psychological support for Trust staff, offering accessible and culturally relevant approaches to care alongside the core programme.
In the summer, Public Health England reported that there were more deaths of Black men during the first wave of COVID-19 than any other group of people. This is due to factors including mistrust of healthcare providers and a high level of undiagnosed long-term health conditions. Our funding, which will support dedicated health checks for Black men at community centres and after religious services, is one of the ways we help to address health inequality.
The renewed focus on structural racism has made us consider our own legacy. As part of our large art and heritage collection, we own two public statues with links to the trade of enslaved people. We have a duty to address the legacy of colonialism, racism and slavery in our history, and we are currently finalising a detailed historical investigation and consultation with our local communities on how best to do this. We will share the findings and they will guide us as we consider the future of the statues.
Our work is made possible through the support and fundraising from the public, including the incredible Tony Hudgell, Pride of Britain award winner and inspiration for us all at the Charity. Tony’s fundraising will leave a long-lasting legacy at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, and we are working with Tony and his family to decide where the amazing £1.5 million raised will make the biggest impact.
We are making arrangements for some of the money to go towards ‘The Tony Hudgell therapy area’ – a new specialist therapy space for children with complex needs like Tony. We are also planning to fund innovative new equipment that will help children and young people, like Tony, who are having specialist surgical treatment and therapy for their bone and muscle conditions.
As the Trust begins to roll out its COVID-19 vaccination programme, we’re looking at how we can continue to play a role in supporting our colleagues through the post-pandemic recovery and making our hospitals and community services the best they can be for patients.
If you’re a member of staff that has an idea about how we can improve your patient’s experience, would like to develop professionally or if you want to share your knowledge at a conference or study trip please share your idea with us here.
We know that many of our colleagues at the Trust won’t have time to stop over the festive season but we hope that everyone is able to find at least a few moments of rest and reflection over the coming weeks to gather themselves for the year ahead. For staff working over Christmas Day, please accept the traditional festive lunch we have funded as a small token of our gratitude for your incredible work over what has been a challenging year.
Trust Funding Director: Colin Kinloch
01 June, 2020
Colin Kinloch, our Trust Funding Director, shares how we've been working closely with the Trust during COVID-19 to find and develop projects focused on improving staff wellbeing and increasing support to patients.
13 December, 2019
As we look back at 2019 our Trust Funding Director, Colin Kinloch, shares what he's most proud of and how we have continued to support the best clinical experience for patients and the staff treating them.