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“We are in it together” – Deepa's story of working through Covid-19

Deepa Rajkumar, Therapy Manager
Deepa Rajkumar, Therapy Manager

Amidst the uncertainty and anxieties of wave two of the pandemic, people in Solent NHS Trust continue to provide great care and support each other during such a difficult period. At a time where the NHS is being tested more than ever before, it is vital to make sure employees can use their skills in the most effective way.

For some, the thought of new duties, new colleagues and new experiences can be daunting; this was the case for Deepa. Deepa revealed how she’s turned these natural anxieties into positives for the benefit of her patients and colleagues.

Deepa Rajkumar is a Therapy Manager at the Inpatient Therapy Unit in Royal South Hants Hospital in Southampton. She qualified as a physiotherapist in 2005, and with 15 years’ experience working in India, London and now at Solent NHS Trust, she expressed how lucky she is to be part of a team that, for her feels like a family.

Deepa said, “the clear difference in my role since COVID-19 began are the extra responsibilities I now have, which seem to be ever changing and understandably happening at short notice.

“We are experiencing additional pressures now that we have COVID-19 patients. With any other condition you feel more knowledgeable because of the experience you've got - a Parkinson's patient, someone following a fall or experiencing anxiety can present to you so differently, but due to experience you know how to cope with. With COVID-19, that hands on experience is slightly more lacking because everything is so new. “

Deepa admitted: “This can be quite scary, but what I do is treat the person in front of me and the symptoms they are presenting with, not COVID-19. Everyone is unique.

“Normally, we get patients who are well in themselves, they're here for rehab and they're going to go home to get better. Now there’s a 10-day period following a positive test where we need to make COVID-related decisions on what is going to happen for the patient - that responsibility is heavy. It weighs heavy on your shoulders because all you're thinking about is getting them home. That is the challenging bit.

“With this comes the major involvement with families; the patient with COVID-19 may be doing well, but this doesn’t stop the anxiety whenever the virus is mentioned. You support them over the phone, but you are also emotional, and you have to build strengths within you, and as a team.”

Across the NHS there is a strong feeling that everyone is in this together, Deepa thought about her team and explained: “We appreciate each other and how resilient we are. We support each other by sitting down, talking, and reflecting as a team. We’ve never been so tested as a team or experienced this sort of pandemic.

“We're all doing what we can, and we are still positive about it - there's been quite a lot of encouraging things that we can be proud of, things that we have learnt as a team that we might not have learned so quickly.”

In wave one, Deepa and her team were redeployed as part of the Trust’s work to set up additional bed capacity, Deepa said: “I was afraid because we're only human

“Any change is hard and difficult, but we are all in this together. For people who have been redeployed it’s important to remember you’re not alone, you are amongst lots of colleagues in the same position.

“It's all about communication, and it's all about expressing yourself, be open.

“Even if you have not been redeployed to different teams, you will likely be working differently. It is okay to feel worried and upset but talk to people and ask for support if you need. We might be in different boats, but we’re in the same storm.”

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