COVID has fundamentally changed the way we work – from where we work, how we interact, and how we connect as caregivers to each other and our patients.
It was a pretty rapid escalation in the early days. I remember at the start of the week, Dr Steve Bolsin our Group Director Medical and Clinical Governance, asked if we (Group Digital and Technology) could get everyone working from home in a couple of weeks. By the Wednesday, he asked whether we could get it done by that Friday.
So, no pressure. We just needed to get around 3,000 caregivers to move from office to home in a few days and weeks, and yet continue to function like they were in the office.
But we had two main factors working in our favour – our team and our technology.
Over the past 12 months, we had taken steps to modernise and secure our remote work capabilities. We’d moved our video conferencing service to the cloud, allowing us to scale this service to meet demand, and to allow us to connect patients, families and clinicians when social distancing created barriers between all three. We’d restructured our network agreements, allowing us to rapidly scale services to hospital and sites to meet increased demand. And we’d commenced the rollout of NetIQ, our multi-factor authentication solution, allowing us to protect our systems and data wherever they were accessed. I’d like to say this was prescient on our part, but in reality it was just good planning and, frankly, a bit of luck that all these components were in place when we needed them.
None of this would have mattered though without the team, who stepped up to support our caregivers as they transitioned to work from home, and our patients in remaining connected to family and care. The whole department mobilised behind the effort – writing guides and manuals, answering thousands of calls for assistance, scaling services and building new capabilities.
And me? I guess I acted as a bit of a conduit for all of this, connecting people with a problem or idea with the people who could solve it. What I saw was an organisation that kept cool in a crisis that impacted us on so many levels – personal, professional, cultural, physical – and just forged ahead with professionalism and patience. I also saw front-line caregivers step up massively under significant stress – it was an honour and a privilege to support them in whatever way we could.
Caregivers of COVID
The Caregivers of COVID series shares the stories and experiences at St John of God Health Care that made most of 2020 so extraordinary.