“I wanted to make sure that people were also being looked after emotionally”

CArol Cullen

Health Care Assistant

I’m Carol Cullen, one of the Health Care Assistants or HCAs at the practice.

I joined Jesmond Health Partnership in March this year, so I’d not been here long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and we had to make some pretty big changes to the way we were working.

Normally I would have been taking blood samples, monitoring patients’ blood pressure or doing NHS Health checks but a lot of that work has been on hold. Reducing the number of visitors to the practice has been vital in limiting people’s potential exposure to COVID-19, and helping us keep the practice as safe as possible for patients who do need to come here.

During this period, I’ve been spending a lot of my time making phone calls to our patients who have been Shielding.

As you’ll probably know, when the lockdown was announced, people who were at the highest risk of getting ill were told to stay at home and reduce their contact with other people.

For lots of our more vulnerable patients, we need to find ways to help them with some bare essentials – like getting their medication delivered, or how to get food and essential supplies without leaving the house.

I’d give people a call, ask how they were getting on, and what we could do to help. Sarah McGuinness, our Social Prescribing Link Worker, set up a great system using lots of volunteers and medical students to deliver medicine to people’s doors, so that was one really practical way we could help.

Of course, it’s not just medicine and food people need, and I wanted to make sure that people were also being looked after emotionally. Lots of our older and more vulnerable patients were having little if any personal contact, so I set up a system to call every week, to check in and make sure they were ok. It became a really enjoyable and worthwhile part of the job.

With the shielding advice now lifted hopefully it’ll be easier for people to see loved ones and get out and about, while still staying safe.

Hopefully, life will start to go back to normal for all of us.

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