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MEDEQUIP: Rising to the Challenges of a New way of Working

The current global pandemic has challenged organisations in every sector and presented them with the steepest of learning curves. For those of us faced with keeping both our own staff and potentially vulnerable service users safe in the face of this new and invisible enemy, the issues have been many and varied.

At Medequip, their management team swiftly recognised the potential magnitude of the impending crisis, and acted promptly to combat the identified issues. They set up a COVID 19 working group at the beginning of March, meeting daily to address fast changing situations, bringing together both senior management and operational teams.

Their initial efforts were focused around safety, identifying and putting into place the procedures and protocols which would enable them to continue to operate their vital collection and delivery business processes without risking spreading the virus.

Sourcing PPE for their frontline staff was an obvious challenge, coupling with ensuring they had the right equipment in stock to support the fast pace of hospital discharges, responding to rising demand for community beds to support the NHS by freeing up the maximum number of hospital beds.

Coming together in the face of the crisis

Facilitated by the BHTA, MD level discussions took place across the community equipment sector involving themselves, NRS Healthcare, Millbrook Healthcare and Ross Care. They all focused on sharing best practices and working together to maximise continuity of services and products for local authorities and the NHS, addressing issues including activity levels, geographical pressures, PPE and availability of qualified staff.

Other key initiatives have included an urgent appeal in association with the BHTA for the return of beds and other items of equipment loaned through Community Equipment Services that was no longer in use, to optimise availability for hospital discharges.

Working to store, sort and distribute PPE

Elsewhere across our organisation, the resourcefulness of their people came to the fore. Cefndy Medequip, their unique Community Equipment Service partnership in Gwent, cooperated with Gwent-Wide Integrated Community Equipment Service (GWICES) to help with vital PPE for the care sector in South Wales, storing equipment and distributing to five local hubs in Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen.

The Cefndy-Medequip partnership has now processed millions of individual items, including face visors supplied by the Royal Mint, receiving large deliveries that needed to be offloaded, counted, split and delivered the same day. This operation has been replicated in other areas of the country too, including across Greater London and North Somerset.

Using our skills and budding talents

Agility and imagination has played a part too. When Gallions View Care home in Greenwich was being set up as a specialist centre for COVID-19 patients to ease the burden on the local hospital and other care facilities, the local Medequip team based at Woolwich was tasked with installing beds and associated items to equip 30 care rooms.

Medequip Centre of Excellence trainer Paul Cockburn proposed a novel solution. “With 10 trainees on his cohort at their training centre in Woolwich, it seemed like an excellent idea to put their studies and knowledge to good use in support of our team on the ground,” said Paul. “Following discussions and planning with our local operational team, it was decided to mobilise our apprentice technicians to complete the work.”

The equipment was delivered in to the care home, some of it directly from suppliers and some from Medequip’s Woolwich depot. At 9 o’clock on 7 April, the team of trainees began work; no special PPE was needed as the facility was empty, awaiting its first patients. By lunchtime they had successfully installed a total of 30 low level profiling beds and mattresses, commodes, overbed tables and high back chairs, as well as two mobile hoists and two floor standing hoists and the rooms were ready to admit their first inpatients.

Following the success of this initiative, the team of trainees were in action again at Time Court in Charlton, a care unit with COVID-19 patients already on the wards. Here, Medequip took extra care with government-approved PPE, maintaining strict distancing from patients and staff. Within one and a half hours four beds had been installed complete with siderails, mattresses and two hoists, all ready for use with minimal disruption to the work on the unit.

“At Medequip, they are very proud of our teams around the country who continue to handle an increased workload to ensure vulnerable people continue to get the support they need and to help with hospital discharges,” stated MD David Griffiths. “This is a great example of the Medequip team at its very best, working together for the good of our service users, using ingenuity and expertise to make sure we can match the new challenges we have been facing on a daily basis.”

Feeding the front line staff

Other individuals at Medequip have also been taking time to support front line NHS staff. Heathrow Warehouse Supervisor Jamie Welland is particularly aware of the challenges they face as his fiancée is a nurse at the hospital, working long hours to give the patients the care they need to overcome COVID-19. She told Jamie just how important the many food and drink donations from local businesses have been in keeping front line workers motivated, just by knowing how much people care.

So Jamie and his Heathrow colleagues decided to help too. They started fundraising, and Jamie got in contact with a team coordinating a food bank at Hillingdon Hospital serving key workers who have so little time and energy to shop and cater for themselves. Many workers used the small donations for meal time and lunch time sustenance – a small thing but having food and drink at their disposal was very uplifting and very helpful to many of them.

The team has also been able to donate £500 to the hospital charity dedicated to building better wards and improved facilities for patients and staff. Some £200 remaining went to another charity supplying hot meals for hospital staff.

Keeping in touch and providing practical support

Medequip Connect telecare has played an important role on the Wirral, carrying out free of charge wellbeing and welfare calls to support the local community. Manage At Home, Medequip’s online platform, continued to operate at capacity throughout lockdown, with a record number of website visits and sales of aids for independent living in support of people shielding in their own homes.

“Medequip has learned and developed alongside the shifting challenges of this pandemic,” said James Ibbotson, Chief Executive Officer. “The crisis has tested the agility of our management team, who have successfully planned and put appropriate responses into place quickly and effectively – including matching the technological demands from a business and IT perspective of ensuring we had a maximum number of people able to work safely from home yet continue to provide vital support for staff and service users across the country.”

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Published: 17th July 2020

Source: Medequip