What the pandemic has meant to me … and what it is like now

Katie Miller, Day Services Manager, St Peters Hospice, Bristol and Inspire Improvement Fellow

Wow, what a year! I think that the changes and restructuring within my team have been overwhelming over the last few months but things are starting to look brighter. Feelings of loss, grief and immense sadness have been replaced by hope, excitement and energy.  

I run a service that facilitates well-being programmes for patients and carers who are living with life limiting illnesses. At the start of the pandemic, my team and I were suddenly redeployed to work on the In-Patient Unit to provide clinical care. I don’t think I had time to actually process what was happening. My team rolled up their metaphorical sleeves and got stuck in. Our working lives were changed almost overnight. Our ways of working and our patient groups were gone. All lost. No follow ups, no contact. This was hard to deal with but at the time we thought it was a temporary change and our way of working and our team would be back to normal soon.  

The restructuring of my organisation’s services has meant that my service was completely changed. By the summer I was facing having some of the worst conversations with my staff that I could imagine. Telling someone that their job would be going and that they have to be redeployed was really upsetting and devastating to each individual. A time I never want to re-live. 

After a detailed proposal to the executive team with gathered evidence, aims and structured plans, I was able to secure a business case to secure the future of my service. Albeit with a smaller team but there was some light at the end of a very dark tunnel. 

I feel that although working through the pandemic has been very hard at times, uncertain and with so many changes along the way, I also feel it has offered opportunity. An opportunity to change, start from scratch, and really examine what we do, why we do it and what the need is. I have set up a brand new virtual service with my ‘new team’ and we are now coming out the other side. 

I had already secured a place on the FoNS Inspire Improvement Fellowship prior to COVID hitting and this enabled me to have a space for reflection to start to acknowledge what my team and I had been through and start planning for the future.  

I have already started to work with my team in a different way. This includes open engagement, delving into my own leadership styles, asking for feedback, doing visionary reflection and setting up a team day to acknowledge what we have been through and also celebrate our successes and start to plan for the future. 

I have learnt through all this to stay focused, believe in what I do and that through change can come opportunity.

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