Quiet revolution happeningIt feels like as each week passes, we never truly know what is around the corner.

Over the last weekend in October, we learnt some very sad and unexpected news.  We lost another health and care hero to this terrible virus. Sam Helliwell worked as a receptionist at Tower Family Healthcare Minden for over 20 years. I have heard how Sam was a much-loved colleague and friend, totally committed to providing a first-class service, always putting patients first and going the extra mile for them. Sam was also a dedicated charity worker helping many vulnerable families. Her sudden passing has left the whole team at Minden devastated. This news brings too close to home how this virus doesn’t discriminate, however, at times its impact feels very personal.

Our thoughts and condolences are with Sam’s friends, family, loved ones and the team at Tower Minden at this tremendously sad time. I have been struck by the number of people in the wider joint commissioning team that have commented how sad they have felt by this news, themselves feeling a personal connection to Sam. At times like this we realise we are all one team and share so much more than might separate us. We will be inviting our extended health and care family from right across Bury to pay their respects during a one-minute silence on Wednesday this week at 3pm to remember Sam, please do join us if you can, wherever you are.

Our health and care staff continue to work through really challenging times.   They put themselves on the front line every day, and whatever comes their way, they continue to provide the best care.

In the last week, and in the thick of this second wave of the virus and a second national lockdown, some colleagues across the Council and CCG have been redeployed to support our well appreciated Community Hubs. Bury’s Community Hubs provide humanitarian support to some of our most vulnerable residents to help with things like shopping, when they have no other natural support network around them.

Lots of teams are adapting the way they work to rise to new challenges or opportunities. Council staff who normally provide tenancy and wellbeing support to sheltered housing residents established a response service for 3,000 CareLink customers. Now, instead of having to call an ambulance if a person presses their pendent alarm if they become unsteady on their feet, a Council vehicle, made available because of lockdown changes, is used and a team takes out lifting equipment and help get the person back on their feet and make sure they are safe and well. In the first 3 months, 400 ambulance calls were prevented.

And, as our leisure services have once more had to pause, let’s not forget all of the leisure staff who last time they were closed set up our emergency PPE and supplies system almost overnight, distributing PPE, food, water, and much more to struggling care services across the borough, they were amazing.

These are just a few examples of how we have been and are working differently and flexibly to support each other and pull together, and our team Bury spirit across health, care, wider public services and the voluntary sector is very much stronger and more vibrant than ever. There is so much to be proud of here in Bury.

Lockdown is here again, and it has been really encouraging to listen to how people are going to maximise the time and opportunity. From some receptionists using the month to go on a ‘lockdown diet’ (I should definitely try this one!), to those taking up the Couch to 5k challenge, committing to a 30 minute daily cycle, and to those who are proactively reaching out to neighbours and friends. ‘Respect the mask’ is a chant I heard from two teenagers this week, and they are busy designing t-shirts to promote wearing face masks!

I am also hearing about colleagues that are currently working from home, having positive experiences, seeing the sun rise, the sun set, seeing their children leave for school and return later on in the day, the kind of things we maybe missed or overlooked ‘before’. Very few people seem to miss the commute to work, at the same time, it’s important to appreciate those that can’t work from home.

It’s a difficult time for everyone, life has changed for us all for a while and it’s natural that this may cause you to feel worried or anxious, lonely or frustrated. If you feel you need some extra support, Bury’s Getting Help Line is a confidential telephone service for people of all ages that are experiencing difficulties with their mental wellbeing. Run by the voluntary sector, you can access advice, guidance and signposting to local services by calling the Getting Help Line on: 0161 464 3679, Monday to Saturday, 8am to 8pm.  And, you can find out more about other mental wellbeing support on our dedicated web page at: www.bury.gov.uk/mentalwellbeing

Dr. Jeffrey Schryer, local GP and NHS Bury CCG Chair