What a difference a year makes!

Evelyn Prodger

Evelyn Prodger.
RN Queens Nurse MSc BSc(Hons) CHA Committee Member

2020 brought with it more challenges than any of us anticipated when we were mulling over our New Year Resolutions. Covid-19 has affected each and everyone one of us as individuals as well as health and social care professionals. My day job is as Head of Community Services at Martlets Hospice so the pandemic brought with it a great deal of new work; some of it sad, some simply hard and some of it full of opportunity.

Community Hospitals are a key part of local health provision but are often hidden in the shadows of the spotlights on Acute and Primary Care services. We know how valuable they are to those who work in them, those who access their services and the local communities they are set within. As an Association we wanted to support our colleagues as well as use the opportunity to showcase the work done in Community Hospitals across the country.

As a Committee we moved from meeting quarterly in a Community Hospital to weekly virtually. We developed a resource section on our Website and started to think about what we could do in a practical sense.  We made lifetime individual membership free.

We set up virtual forums to provide networking opportunities, a space to share work and problem solve and help members get to know committee members. I chaired a number of these and (while daunting) left each one feeling proud of the part each and every Community Hospital and the teams within them in the Covid-19 response.

2020 was also the year we were celebrating our 5o years as an Association. We thought long and hard about whether continuing this was the right thing to do but felt that celebrating everything great about Community Hospitals past, present and future was important. October saw daily posts sharing information and messages and the response from our followers was incredible – marking our 50 years in such a year as 2020 was certainly memorable!

Our Innovation and Best Practice Awards have always involved visiting the shortlisted applicants to allow us to visit Community Hospitals. Running them virtually while keeping the ethos of the spirit of local work was a challenge. 9 shortlisted applicants presented their work to a panel of us in December 2020. Seeing the work that happened because of or despite the pandemic was humbling. It was such a privilege to be part of this and hand on heart I can say it was the best day of 2020 for me.

As a committee we were even more determined than ever to find a way to showcase the contribution of Community Hospitals. We took the opportunity to submit a bid to Q Exchange entitled: Community Hospitals: Embedding Covid-19 positive impact changes through shared learning: read more on Q website here  

Finding out we have been successful in securing the funding is so exciting and gives us a way of building on the great work we have done across 2020.

It wasn't until I was putting together the final newsletter of the year in December that I was really aware of everything that we had managed to achieve over the year and all of it online from dining rooms and conservatories across the country with some of us working daily in frontline services.

The committee and I all have new skills (especially IT related ones!), new networks and are energised and excited about our opportunity to demonstrate the continued contribution of Community Hospitals to the Health and Social Care system. So, looking back at 2020 all I can say is what a year! Let's see what we can achieve in 2021…