Transport team go the extra mile to ensure smooth journey through COVID-19 pandemic
As the majority of the country came to a halt when lockdown restrictions were put in place back in mid-March due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), many key services had to find new ways of working to continue to deliver urgent or ongoing support to the community.
The Transport team at Care Plus Group would ordinarily be providing services to help vulnerable adults across North East Lincolnshire, who may need support to travel to our day centres. Although, with such centres not in operation due to lockdown measures, the transport team haven’t been able to taxi their service users around so have instead put their services to great use elsewhere within the community.
Over the last few months the 10 strong team have predominantly been transporting goods across the county, as opposed to supporting service users. With restrictions necessary, protocols were established to ensure the appropriate social distancing and hygiene requirements were adhered to throughout their operation. Staff are also responsible for ensuring each vehicle they use during a shift is thoroughly deep cleaned after each job.
Laura Sparkes-Tedde, Transport Supervisor and Driver, said: “The Transport team have been heavily involved throughout the course of the lockdown restrictions, and continue to play a valuable role with the collection and delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE).
“Initially, we had quite a lot of PPE being donated to Care Plus Group from local organisations and individuals across the community, through our appeal. Since time has passed we now have regular, manageable weekly PPE collections from Harrison House and deliver back to our base at The Val Waterhouse Centre, which allows us time to assist in other areas.”
Aside from supporting with PPE, the Transport department have been called in to action to carry out a variety of tasks outside of their normal remit. The dedicated team have assisted with the collection and delivery of prescriptions for residents at Fairways Care Home and The Beacon; collected and delivered computer chairs from the work office to colleagues personal addresses to aid those who are working from home; as well as having transported a patient who was requiring an urgent scan to and from the Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital.
The team have also been supporting other local health and social care providers across the area, highlighting the togetherness of the community. Laura added: “We have two staff throughout the week delivering prescriptions from The Roxton Practice to various outlying villages. The provision was put in place to help prevent delays with prescription delivery to patient’s houses, due to the high volume they had coming through.
“We’ve also been communicating with St Andrews Hospice, as they have two staff members and a vehicle readily available to work alongside our team with any patient discharges that we may have to assist with. We’ve also had discussions with St Hugh’s Hospital, who have offered to help us through the use of an additional vehicle should we need it.
“Furthermore, we have two Day Services support workers / drivers who have made themselves available, offering their support to work alongside us as and when required. It’s been great to see so many organisations and services come together to support one another in times of need.”
With multiple changes to the roles and responsibilities of the entire Transport team since social distancing and lockdown measures were introduced, the team have been keeping in close contact to ensure everyone feels well supported and happy with their roles and responsibilities during this unfamiliar time for all of us.
Laura added: “To ensure the smooth running of our service we’ve been taking our team meetings on to Zoom, which has been really useful in keeping everyone up to date on what’s been happening and what we’ve got coming up. I’ll also speak to individual team members daily to check in that everyone feels well supported and happy, both during work hours and in their personal time outside of work.
“We would ordinarily work split shifts over the course of the week, but since lockdown everyone has been willing and able to be on call seven days a week, outside of their contracted hours, including Bank Holidays!”
Despite the additional hours and a big shift in their normal working regime, the team have remained upbeat and taken to their new ways of working without any hesitation. Some of the feedback since these new ways of working have been implemented have been very positive and include the following statements:
- “Initially it took time to adjust to the new methods of working as we were inundated with requests, but over the course of the last few weeks it’s become much more manageable”
- “We all miss picking our service users up each morning and having a laugh with them. You become quite close to them and their family members or carers, so it’ll be great to see them again when the opportunity arises”
- “I’m pleased to be involved in the delivery and collection of prescriptions and PPE. It gives you great satisfaction that you are able to do something really meaningful for people during these testing times”
- “It’s been great to see other staff members from across Care Plus Group whilst out collecting and delivering goods. Normally we wouldn’t cross paths during our shifts so it’s been refreshing to see colleagues from other service areas whilst on our travels”
- “Although we’ve been working closely with another organisation in The Roxton Practice, we’ve all been welcomed with open arms. They’re a great bunch and it’s been a pleasure to support them with their prescription deliveries over the last few months.”
Maria Tomkinson, Head of HR & Organisational Development & Transport, said: “I’m delighted we’ve been able to play our part and provide an invaluable service to our colleagues and the wider community during these challenging times. The team continue to undertake their duties with their usual friendliness, support and good humour!”