Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust (DCHS) serves a population of more than one million and provides specialist healthcare services at home, in schools, in hospitals and in the community. It operates 133 sites including 13 community hospitals and 28 health centres across Derbyshire county, High Peak, North Dales and parts of Leicestershire.
What was the aim/problem?
Against the backdrop of COVID-19 disproportionately impacting Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BME) people, the trust needed to take urgent action to protect its BME staff who represent 4.7% of its workforce.
What were the challenges?
Social distancing, lockdown restrictions and remote working meant safe face to face meetings were not viable. Microsoft Teams meetings were the logical solution to enable planning of multiple sessions. This accommodated varied shift patterns, ensured colleagues working on the frontline were included, and made engagement with all the trust’s BME colleagues across multiple sites more manageable.
What was the solution?
They used Microsoft Teams meetings to set up multiple engagement sessions accommodating varied shift patterns. Following consultation, including consultation with the trust BME staff network, a bespoke COVID-19 risk assessment tool and training was introduced, so over 100 line managers could be supported to undertake individual risk assessments with each of their BME direct reports.
Each risk assessment template was designed to support discussions around health status, and other risk factors, such as support for vulnerable family members, use of public transport and how the trust could support colleagues adversely impacted by COVID-19 for example in ways relating to faith or spirituality.
The trust continues to conduct a regular review of emerging priorities.
What were the results?
As at Friday 29 May, managers had undertaken 193 risk assessments for BME colleagues, with all risk assessments expected to be completed soon after.
BME colleagues welcomed this approach as proactive, compassionate and caring. They appreciated the sense of urgency from the trust and feeling valued.
Outcomes from risk assessments led to more flexible working and remote working for some colleagues. In the early stages of the pandemic, colleagues in the vulnerable or extremely vulnerable groups were supported to work from home were possible and a number were redeployed where there were no alternatives.
The DCHS BME staff network now meets virtually every fortnight and is a source of valuable insight.
What were the learning points?
People-first organisational culture, staff networks, compassionate leadership and peer support are invaluable for colleagues, particularly in times of crisis.
Creating protected time for engagement and listening sessions for colleagues meant there could be a safe space to share experiences, feelings, fears and anxieties, and allow colleagues to vent their concerns without any worry about repercussions.
The risk assessment template is versatile and can be adapted for any other identified vulnerable groups.
Want to know more?
Contact Harinder Dhaliwal, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Inclusion Team: firstname.lastname@example.org