A pleasure to be back on the road
"As we seem to be turning the tide of Covid and the resulting restrictions are easing, it has been great to get out of the home office and back on the road. "
The new year started with a trip to Cambridge to join a Member at his Limb Centre appointment. Before Covid, this was routine business but the legacy of the pandemic was still evident. On arrival at the Addenbrooke’s Hospital site everyone was wearing face coverings, and security guards were posted at all entrances to ensure hands were washed and that fresh, hospital-supplied face coverings were being used. They were also checking the reason for the visit to reduce the number of people on site as far as possible. This did make us feel very safe and comfortable.
The following week I was again at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, this time to support two Members who were attending prosthetic appointments. I accompany Members to their appointments for a variety of reasons, but always at the request of the Member. Often it relates to a breakdown in communication between the Limb Centre and the Member to such an extent that the Member feels having someone from Blesma with them to be an advocate is helpful.
I always try to find a way of dealing with individual issues or concerns early, usually without the need to be there in person. This is normally done by sending an email or calling the Member’s prosthetist to make them aware of the problem from the Member’s perspective. This is often successful and will negate the need for me to attend the next appointment.
On the rare occasion this doesn’t work so well, or the Member or I feel it is important for me to be ‘in the room’, I will endeavour to make the appointment in person. That may require travelling long distances or even an overnight stay, but my priority is to be there when needed and for the appointment to be as soon as possible so the service to the Member is not delayed.
This can require some negotiation but the Limb Centre will usually accommodate this as well as they can. For example, on my last trip to Cambridge the Limb Centre facilitated an 8am appointment for one Member knowing I would be there later that morning for somebody else.
Since returning to work following the festive period I have managed to get to Limb Centres in Cambridge, Sheffield, Preston and Carlisle. The first three were to directly support a number of Members, while the trip to Carlisle was an opportunity to visit while I was in that part of the country. Whilst in Cumbria, I drove out to the Association’s Family Glamping (North) activity as the site is under new ownership. The new owners are lovely and welcoming, and are looking forward to hosting Blesma families in August. It was also good to meet up with Blesma Member Bob Cameron, who volunteers there as a fishing coach.
My plan this year is to try to visit as many Limb Centres as possible and I already have several dates booked in to provide training to clinical staff about veterans’ issues as part of their continued professional development. This is vital, as over the past two years a number of prosthetists, physiotherapists and centre managers have changed centres or roles, or have left the service altogether. Part of my role is to help educate new staff about Blesma, our work, and the various policies and funding available. I have also started to book in conferences and seminars that will help me keep up to date with new prosthetics products and to network within the prosthetics industry.
Following Covid, many organisations have adopted a hybrid way of working, combining virtual and faceto-face meetings (the Veterans’ Prosthetics Panel and Veterans Trauma Network meetings are virtual, for example). This is set to continue and will provide opportunities for me to have a wider reach without necessarily having to be physically in the room. It would be impractical to attend all of these in person, but ‘Zooming in’ works really well.
If you are experiencing problems with your prosthesis or provision of prosthetics, please get in touch with Brian, BSO (Prosthetics), at Blesma Chelmsford on 020 8548 7080 or at email@example.com