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COVID-19 and Me: Katie Eshelby

Released on - 04/08/2020

COVID-19 and Me: Katie Eshelby

COVID-19 and Me: Katie Eshelby

‘When the pandemic struck it was terrifying. Everyone was so scared, even people who have been qualified for years. Somehow though, even when I was frightened and exhausted, I managed to find the strength to carry on for the patients and my team.’ 

My name is Kate Eshelby. I’m an apprentice ODP and have just finished my first year at the University of Huddersfield. I was working in placement in Paediatrics at the Leeds General Infirmary when COVID19 hit, I was taken out of placement and returned to my ‘home team’ (Acutes and Obstetrics) as a perioperative assistant. I ‘ve been working there throughout the pandemic.

Fortunately, when the pandemic started, I’d finished my lectures for the year so I only missed a few face-to-face study sessions for my anatomy and physiology exam. I still had a presentation to hand in and the exam to do though.

I’ve found remote learning easier than I expected. Having access to a laptop and the internet has been vital. All the lecture slides have been uploaded on to our online portal, which is really easy to navigate and very helpful for learning from home. Our lecturers put some extra material on there to help us with things we may have been missing by not being on placement. Also, one of my tutors set up some topic discussion boards on our learning portal. This was great because it meant we could discuss, as a cohort, topics relating to the role of an ODP. 

I feel fortunate to be still working in practice because it’s meant that I’ve been able to ask the ODPs I work with to show and explain things to me. It’s helped me ,so I remember things like running through a drip, arterial line and checking the anaesthetic machine. 

I’ve really missed the social aspect of going into university, although we’ve all kept in touch via group chats. I definitely enjoy face to face learning more than remote learning! I haven’t missed the daily commute though and I’ve saved a lot of money on coffees! Seriously though, I can’t wait to get back to university and have our lectures together again. 

I haven’t found it too difficult to keep myself motivated whilst I’ve been studying at home. Having and sticking to a routine would be my top tip to other people in my position. It’s helped that my girlfriend has been working from home too, so I’ve studied when she’s working and then taken a break halfway through the day to go for a walk. That’s stopped me from getting bored with sitting in the same place all day! And it’s helped clear my head so I can go back to my studies with a fresher mind.

My other top tip to keep motivated is to make sure you set yourself small goals to aim towards, for example; do notes for one organ system in a week or write 500 words of your essay in a day. Setting goals has stopped me from getting too overwhelmed. Also, have a designated place to work – not the sofa or your bed!

And always keep in mind why you wanted to be an ODP in the first place, for me it’s the patients. 

Where I work, in the Acutes and Obstetrics department, we’ve carried on “as normal” compared to the elective theatres. Normal wasn’t completely normal though! We moved our theatre to a different theatre suite as our suite was converted into ICU pods. We also had to do a lot of cases in the ‘Covid theatre’ and adapt a lot of our practices to ensure we were keeping each other safe. I did a couple of shifts in ICU as well, supporting registered practitioners to care for Covid positive patients. 

On the ICU, I was mainly an amber runner, getting equipment and supplies for the nurses and ODPs in the red zone. When I went into the red zone to help, it was for personal care and pressure care turns, which are things I’d already been trained on as a health care assistant. 

I completed my Donning and Doffing training, to ensure I was putting on and removing my PPE safely. We’ve also been fit tested on different masks throughout the pandemic.

When the pandemic struck it was terrifying. Everyone was so scared, even people who have been qualified for years. Somehow though, even when I was frightened and exhausted, I managed to find the strength to carry on for the patients and for my team. 

In the middle of the pandemic I really started to struggle. Shifts were really, really tough and I was exhausted. Normally, on my days off, I’d have things planned to look forward to and take my mind off work but this was impossible because of lockdown. Also, I just didn’t have the energy.  I live in a flat in the city centre with no outdoor space, so I couldn’t get out much to get any fresh air. I found that really tough.

Although it was extremely challenging and scary working throughout the Covid pandemic, I feel it will benefit me in the long run. I’ve had to learn very quickly. It has taught me how to be more adaptable and to cope with working in different conditions from the norm. It’s also shown me how important it is to reflect on and learn from my experiences, and to talk about my worries and fears, not to bottle them up. 

It was the support I got from my amazing girlfriend, friends, work colleagues and university lecturers that got me through the tough times. I have the most amazing team at work. They’re more like family than work colleagues. We all supported each other to provide the best possible care for our patients. We overcame so many challenges and I’m so proud of us all. 

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