“It’s the biggest learning curve of my life and the most incredible experience – I am completely blown away by everyone’s support,” says Roisin Quinn, 24, a C&I Occupational Therapist, who is working as a Clinical Support Worker at London’s NHS Nightingale Hospital.
When the call-out came to staff, asking if anyone would be willing to join NHS Nightingale, the newly-built hospital for patients with coronavirus needing intensive care, Roisin decided to step forward.
NHS Nightingale, which officially opened on 3 April 2020 and is housed in the ExCeL centre in east London, was set up as part of the emergency response to COVID-19. Just a few days before the opening, Roisin carried out her induction and a fortnight later, went in for her first shift.
“I had a call on Saturday night to ask if I could start the next day at 8am,” explains Roisin. “Even from my very first shift, I could feel how strong the team bond was and that we were all in this together. The team at NHS Nightingale come from all different walks of life and with a very varied range of clinical expertise.”
Having spent most of her career working in mental health, Roisin has enjoyed gaining more experience in a physical healthcare setting. Her key responsibilities include doing blood tests, providing personal care and carrying out observations.
“Patients come to us when they are really unwell and are receiving care via a ventilator. Providing personal care when our patients are so poorly is something I find quite emotional, and it shows just how dependent someone is on you as a healthcare professional.
“The team around me is so supportive. I’ve only been working there for a very short time and I feel that I have already developed friendships for life. At the Nightingale Hospital, there is no such thing as a stupid question and it’s refreshing to be able to speak to some of the most senior people about any concerns that I have.”
Despite working 50 hours per week over four shifts, Roisin still makes time to check in with the service users she normally cares for under the C&I Assertive Outreach Team (AOT): “It’s a stressful time for many people but when you are living with a mental health condition, it can be particularly difficult so I do try to talk to some of the service users I would usually see if I was back at C&I.”
“My family and friends are understandably worried about my work at NHS Nightingale but they are very supportive. My team and manager at the Trust are great and are always in close touch to see how I’m doing.”
Angela McNab, Chief Executive at C&I, said: “The courage and dedication Roisin has shown by volunteering to work at NHS Nightingale is inspirational. I want to thank her for all that she is doing to care for patients at their most vulnerable. We’re very lucky to have Roisin at C&I who is a shining example of our Trust values, and on behalf of everyone at C&I I’d like to say how proud of you we all are.”
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In an emergency
C&I has moved the service we normally offer in emergency departments to our 24-hour Mental Health Crisis Assessment Service, at St Pancras Hospital. The service will see people in need of urgent care so that they do not have to go to a hospital emergency department unless they have an urgent medical need. Emergency departments are under unprecedented pressure due to COVID-19 – the illness caused by coronavirus. We are urging people in mental health crisis to telephone our 24/7 crisis line on 0800 917 3333 or contact their usual community mental health team. If service users attend the 24-hour Mental Health Crisis Assessment Service in person we will see you but we urge you to contact the crisis line in advance for advice to ensure you are only leaving home when absolutely necessary.