COVID-19 at the RHNThe global Covid-19 pandemic has had an immense impact worldwide and led to one of the most challenging times in the history of the RHN. The hospital acted quickly and put stringent measures into place to protect our patients and residents. Staff went above and beyond to help manage the crisis. Very sadly and despite our best efforts, 22 patients and two members of staff passed away as a result of coronavirus infection, and our thoughts are with their families.
It was inspiring to witness the hard work and dedication of our staff and the many kind gestures of support from the local community.
The experiences of staff and patients have been captured in audio recordings and photographs which will be held in our archives as a record.
During the lockdowns at the RHN in 2020, 2021 and into the start of 2022, patient activities were put on hold and frontline staff were restricted to their wards. The RHN had to find alternative ways to manage the collection of medical equipment, supplies and the provision of staff lunches. Many non-front line staff volunteered to help the wards carry on essential tasks and “Red Runners” was created.
The Red Runners were coordinated and facilitated by the Leisure and Family Services (LaFS) department and walked hundreds of miles around the hospital grounds, delivering everything from Covid-19 test kits to donated meals and Easter eggs.
In 2021, some of the Red Runner volunteers were interviewed to learn more about their experiences, both the challenges and the positive moments.
What has been most challenging? Isabel Barratt, Senior Legacy Development Manager: “Speaking to family members waiting outside the building desperate to see their loved ones, trying to settle their anxieties. Seeing patients I know being taken to intensive care.”
What have you enjoyed most about doing it? Briar Grootveldt, Occupational Therapy Art Room Assistant: “As the hospital has been on lockdown, it’s been really nice having the ability to see colleagues from different wards, even though it was only from a distance. Having only started at the RHN in September , it’s also given me a great knowledge of the hospital grounds…I’m now rarely lost.”
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the local community stepped in to help in a big way and the hospital received some amazing donations. There were so many donations from so many kind groups and individuals that there are too many to mention all of them here. But some of the amazing examples are described below.
Bright, colourful sets of scrubs were donated from volunteers across London to help our non-uniformed staff protect themselves at work. Donations came from many sources, including the South London for the Love of Scrubs group, family and friends of those at the hospital, and the hospital’s next-door neighbours, the Holy Trinity Church Wandsworth. The scrubs were made in many different fabrics and there were some very jazzy ones. Staff were working in African prints, an upcycled Marvel Comics duvet cover, and huge green polka dots, which not only helped with infection control but also raised morale!
The “Staying Connected” appeal was launched, asking for people to donate old technology which could help facilitate video calls between patients and their families during the lockdowns when visits from families and friends had to be stopped. Thanks to the generosity of the hospital’s supporters, the RHN received several Amazon Fire tablets, iPads and smartphones. These enabled patients to call their family members regularly and made an enormous difference to them.
Staff were surprised and delighted when two lorries full of chocolate treats for staff and patients to enjoy turned up at Easter! Lindt UK sent the special delivery to the RHN in the hopes of lifting spirits over the Easter period.
During the first lockdown in 2020, the art room was completely closed. Lauren (the art technician at the time) had to change roles and help out on the wards. However, she managed to do one project on the wards – a fantastic clay modelling project. Lauren took clay to each ward and taught patients, residents and staff to model themselves out of clay. The amazing results are displayed in a cabinet at the RHN and are a great testament to the role of art in boosting morale during difficult times.