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Annual Carers Survey Launched by Welsh Ambulance

If you look after a family member or friend, then the Welsh Ambulance Service wants to hear from you during August as part of its Carers Survey 2020.

Caring for anybody with a physical or mental disability, a person with substance misuse issues or providing extra help as someone grows older can be extremely testing and impact on the carer’s own life and wellbeing.

The Ambulance Service would love to hear your experiences of caring — especially if you’ve had cause to use any of their services such as emergency care response, falls team, non-emergency patient transport or community engagement work.

Executive Director of Quality and Nursing for Welsh Ambulance, Claire Roche said: “Gathering personal experiences from carers is vital to us and will help build greater understanding and shape how we meet their needs in the future.’

Claire Roche,
Executive Director of Quality & Nursing,
WAST

“I would urge anybody in a care role to make their voice heard and let us know via the survey how they have found our response when they have needed to call.”

Run by the Patient Experience and Community Involvement (PECI) team, the survey is in its second year.

Matt James from the PECI team added: “Reaching out to those who are caring for loved ones can be a lifeline.’

“To provide a safe forum and support network is essential in helping people feel understood and that they are not alone.

“Our annual survey will help us to further understand the issues faced by people we may not physically be able to reach.”

Follow the work Welsh Ambulance do with carers on Twitter @WelshAmbPIH.

To take the survey visit https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/1_WASTCarers2020/

Treating People Fairly: Welsh Ambulance Service’s Strategic Equality Plan 2020-2024

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The Welsh Ambulance Service has published an ambitious new plan to improve equality among its workforce and communities.

The Trust’s Strategic Equality Plan 2020-2024 sets out its commitment to work with staff and volunteers to help them recognise and celebrate diversity.

The plan is available to read via a link at the end of this article.

It also outlines how the organisation will ensure the people who use ambulance services, including those with protected characteristics, have equal access.

Claire Vaughan, the Trust’s Director of Workforce and Organisational Development, said: “We want to lead the way as an exemplar employer for diversity, equality, inclusion and fairness. 

“This strategy, building on progress and momentum from the previous strategy, sets out how we intend to do this over the next four years to cultivate an inclusive workforce where our people are enabled to realise their full potential, to flourish and make a positive contribution in the delivery of care.’

“We have called it Treating People Fairly to reflect our aim; to treat everyone fairly regardless of who they are, their background or circumstances.’

“We know we have more to do to enable a culture that is fully inclusive, supportive and accepting and we’re having conversations about how we can expedite this work in light of recent events.”

Joga Singh, Non-Executive Director with the lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, added: “The celebration of diversity is so important for an organisation’s ability to recruit and retain the best people for the job and also improves productivity, which ultimately, delivers a better experience for the patient.’

“We look forward to working with our staff, citizens and stakeholders across health and social care, the public sector and beyond to achieve the ambitions set out in this strategy.”

The launch of the new strategy coincided with a statement that Chief Executive Jason Killens made to the workforce on the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, USA, in May.

In a statement to colleagues, Jason said: “There is absolutely no place for racism in the Welsh Ambulance Service.

“This is not about compliance or about feeling we have a moral and ethical obligation to do something to tackle injustice.’

“This is about it being the right thing to do for our people and our communities. ‘

“It’s about standing up and calling out discrimination and inequality whenever and wherever it manifests.’

“It’s about being a fair and decent human being.”

Jason, who is also Diversity Lead for the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, added: “This is not a problem that can be solved by senior management alone. ‘

“This is a challenge that requires every single one of us to stand up and be counted; to look closely at our own thoughts, words and deeds, and the actions of others around us.’

“We must challenge unacceptable behaviours, whether deliberately malicious or just plain ill-informed, and change our organisation for the better.’

“To do this we need to start by having open, honest and inevitably difficult conversations right across the organisation. ‘

“From crew rooms to board rooms, we need to listen, learn and redouble our efforts to change unacceptable behaviours if we want to achieve genuine equality in the workplace.”

Click here to read the Trust’s Strategic Equality Plan, Treating People Fairly.

Welsh Ambulance Service Appoints its First Chaplain

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The Welsh Ambulance Service has appointed its first chaplain.

Reverend Mike Shephard, from Carmarthenshire, was appointed to provide a ‘listening ear’ for the 3,000-strong workforce and provide pastoral care to colleagues and their families.

The 73-year-old former probation officer joined the service in January, and quickly and inadvertently became a crucial source of support for staff through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The father-of-two said: “I was a little apprehensive coming into the service because I wasn’t sure what sort of reception I’d have, but everyone has been so positive.’

Rev. Mike Shephard

“The truth is I’m not your typical minister and have gone through periods in my own career of intense doubt, to the point where I left the ministry for some years because I felt I needed to find myself.’

“My role at the ambulance service is about being spiritual but not religious, and providing that listening ear to anyone who needs me, in whatever way that might be.’

“Drawing on this period in my life means I can better empathise and relate to other people who are also at a low ebb.

“I’ve got so much respect for the NHS having been through bowel cancer and everything that brings; this is my way of paying something back.”

Revd Shephard, originally from Tredegar, Monmouthshire, left school at 15 to train to be a miner and spent a year in the pit at Oakdale Colliery.

It was at this time he joined a local church, and inspired by the life and example of his then minister, decided to embark on the same path.

At 17, he went to study Theology at the North Wales Baptist College in Bangor and by the tender age of 21, had become the UK’s youngest ordained minister.

Revd Shephard held pastorates in North Devon, West Glamorgan, Radnorshire, Gwent and Carmarthenshire while holding down a career as a probation officer and later, a family court adviser.

He said: “The skills I acquired as a social worker are very much transferrable into my role as a minister, and now chaplain.’

“You’re dealing with people who have been through the most traumatic experiences, and are supporting the extended ambulance service family during times of injury, illness and bereavement.’

“I consider myself an outlet for the thoughts and emotions of staff and a crutch through their darkest times; it’s actually very humbling.’

Rev. Mike Shephard

“In this role, you have to be kind, caring and compassionate, and that’s definitely the hallmark of the Welsh Ambulance Service.”

Wendy Herbert, the Trust’s Assistant Director of Quality and Nursing, who helped recruit Revd Shephard into the role, said: “We had been exploring the idea of a chaplain for many years having seen the benefits it’s had for our police and fire service colleagues, but only recently has the idea come to fruition.

“Ambulance work has become increasingly complex and demanding, and the appointment of a chaplain was designed to strengthen the support offer for our staff.

“Revd Shephard joined us in the New Year and then the Covid-19 pandemic ensued, and he quickly became a fundamental source of support for staff, who really look forward to his weekly columns on the Intranet.’

“We’re delighted he’s joined our ambulance service family and look forward to a long and fruitful partnership.”

Revd Shephard, along with others, was instrumental in establishing a drop-in centre at Carmarthen’s English Baptist Church which, 32 years on, continues to host Christmas Day lunch for more than 130 people who otherwise would be on their own during the festive period. 

“I believe that this is what churches are really all about,” he added.

In his spare time, he enjoys gardening and walking holidays which have taken him to various parts of the world, including to the Maltese Islands, Canary Islands and Spain.

He and wife Gwendda have a son, 51, a daughter, 49, and six grandchildren.

Welsh Ambulance Service’s Work with Dementia Community Celebrated in TV Documentary

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The Welsh Ambulance Service’s work with the dementia community is being celebrated in a new documentary series which explores the ground-breaking advances being made to help people with the disease.

A link to the docu-series available at the end of this article.

Hope in the Age of Dementia examines how the Trust has enlisted the support of people with dementia to help shape and deliver training across the workforce.

The programme, a joint venture by the ITN Productions and Alzheimer’s Disease International, also hears from leaders in the field of neuroscience, research and drug discovery.

Alison Johnstone, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Programme Manager for Dementia, said: “For people living with dementia, using an ambulance – whether it’s for an emergency or a planned trip – can often be a stressful experience.

Alison Johnstone,
Programme Manager for Dementia, WAST,
Appearing on Hope in the Age of Dementia

“We’re really trying to understand the needs of people living with dementia so that we can strengthen and improve our services in future.’

“What’s been wonderful is that people living with dementia are involved in that work and are front and centre delivering that training with us, and for us.”

People with dementia have also been invited into the Trust’s Clinical Contact Centres to see how 999 calls are triaged, as well as to ambulance stations to offer a view on how dementia-friendly they find the vehicles, equipment and uniforms.

Linda Willis, of Newport, who was diagnosed with dementia aged 61, has been among those involved in the work.

“It’s given me such a confidence boost, I can’t praise the ambulance service enough,” she said.

“They actually listen to what people with dementia want and need from the service, and have delivered it, and that means so much.”

A still from ITN Productions and Alzheimer’s Disease International’s new documentary series, ‘Hope in the Age of Dementia’

Dementia affects more than 50 million people worldwide and this number is expected to more than triple by 2050.

Funding from Welsh Government has helped make much of the Trust’s work a reality.

Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services, said: “The Welsh Ambulance Service’s innovative work to improve the experiences of people living with dementia exemplifies the aims set out in our Dementia Action Plan for Wales, recognising the different ways in which people living with dementia require support.

“This co-productive approach to developing and delivering training shows the value of listening to people living with dementia and rightly ensures services are person-centred.”
Claire Roche, the Trust’s Executive Director of Quality and Nursing, added: “Knowing how to recognise dementia and respond appropriately can make all the difference to a patient’s support, care and treatment.

“That’s why we’re so committed to hearing first-hand about their experience, so that we can make our services even better for them.

“This programme is an incredible opportunity for the Welsh Ambulance Service to showcase our dementia work and promote the exciting dementia programme we have in Wales.”  

Hope in the Age of Dementia can be viewed here.