The Basement is a community of over 100,000 people, all with different dreams, jobs, talents and aspirations. While some plan on publishing books, are training for the Olympics, or starting their own clothing line, others within our community are health carers. They are quietly going about their work with little of the recognition and fanfare of their peers in other industries.
We are a global platform, with members all over the world. While our community comes together online, many are active and engaged offline in their local communities. They are taking care of those in need in their cities and towns.
We asked some of The Basement community members around the world who are currently working in frontline health services about their day to day experiences, how they were coping with the crisis, what they want the future to look like, and how we could help.
I’m holding up okay, I sort of knew what to expect when this all started to kick off. I’m straight out of sixth form, this wasn’t what I was expecting this early on in my career! But, the more information we get regarding the virus, the easier days are becoming. It’s a very fluid situation, everyday we are faced with different challenges. But I’m proud to work for the NHS during this time.
I am a Healthcare Scientific Support Worker. I work in a microbiology lab, within a hospital that does all the testing on samples for patients. For example, swabs, bloods, urines, respiratory samples… the list goes on forever!
Currently, we still have not been equipped with the correct machinery to do the actual testing for COVID19, but we are still undergoing other testing on patients who have tested positive and are in the hospital. So a lot of new safety measures have been put in place.
I really love my job. Although we don’t get to see the patients, it’s still rewarding.
For the time being, our shift patterns have changed, so that staff are spread out and follow the government guidelines on social distancing and also because it was decided that we are keeping the lab open for longer hours. There is also talk that soon, night workers may be introduced.
Travelling to work is bliss! I drive and there is no traffic (it’s amazing)!
We had a few weeks at work where we were very quiet. Due to surgeries restricting appointments and the hospital prioritising “urgent” and “non-urgent” patients and operations. Our work load was ridiculously low. However, that was definitely the calm before the storm, as the work load soon increased due to the rising numbers in positive COVID19 cases and the amount of positive in-house patients we had.
All COVID19 positive samples have to be done in a higher containment level area. Depending on what the sample is, for example respiratory samples have to be done in containment level 3 due to these type of samples having a much higher risk factor.
At the start of the pandemic all samples were done in CAT3 due to the lack of information we had about the virus, we wanted to be extra safe and didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks. Now we know more about the virus and the risks it brings along with it, we are able to process samples in lower levels of containment. This is really important as it puts less pressure in one area of the lab and allows us to spread the work load across to other areas. (We only have one room for CAT3).
This is why the more we find out about the virus, the easier it becomes.
Some days are better than other days, you really never know what you’re in for. Hearing that people are being discharged, or hearing people have passed. Everyday is different. The people I work with are amazing, the gestures and gifts we have received from people is honestly amazing.
Keeping positive is the best thing you can do. When doctors and nurses come down to speak to us or hand us samples we make sure we have a little laugh and ask each other how we are doing. I mean, I get upset seeing statistics on paper, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be face to face to a patient.
Coming home from work isn’t really “coming home from work”, everything is still swirling in your mind. I don’t watch the news anymore and I try to switch off, but it’s difficult when you have nothing to do! My family and friends are everything to me at the moment.
If I’m honest, I don’t really know what my biggest challenge is. Everyday at the moment has just merged into one big day. At the beginning it was the uncertainty of what was to come, but now I just try and focus on the positives and seeing my loved ones after this all ends!
My family. My friends. My colleagues. All of the kind gestures and donations. Even the clap for the NHS gets me emotional. I finished work at 8pm on Thursday and I was clapped down the road coming out of the hospital, by everyone out side their houses. It’s a feeling you can’t describe.
We have had a HUGE drop in samples, people booking unnecessary appointments or calling 999 for unnecessary reasons.
To the people who call 999 for period pains, splinters or being stung by a stinging nettle. (Yes this has actually happened). Hopefully after this pandemic you will continue to use use your pharmacy for remedies or do your own research online and use home remedies.
111 is also a great way to determine the best route for you to take.
I get it is human instinct to panic, but take a breather and act appropriately. Do not go back to abusing the service that is provided. Realise that you can fix minor things at home! (Obviously if it’s serious and someone needs immediate attention then take appropriate action).
But the amount of non-urgent samples we get in the lab, where people haven’t tried other methods before going straight to the doctors for help. Ask your pharmacist, look online and try these first! Then decide what’s best for you after that.
Just take more consideration and be helpful to those who want to help you. This would make a huge difference to the pressure all departments are put under! I will also never take a meal out, the gym or seeing my family/friends for granted ever again. I hope everyone comes out stronger and more thankful to those around them. (I will be going straight to Wagamamas).
I honestly believe everyone, no matter what job role, is important in their own way.
I’m getting there now, very stressed and worried for my family as I’m sure everyone is.
My role is called “Patient Pathway Tracker” my job is to ensure that the patient is being seen within the time period before it breaches, and chase doctors and any results awaiting for the patient.
I’m probably speaking on behalf of everyone, but leaving to go to work isn’t fun, once you’re here it’s not too bad, but going home is a relief.
Ensuring staying clean, remaining as positive as possible and make sure my family are okay.
My family is important, my mother is a matron within A&E and her role is basically to run the department. I can’t say anymore but to stay at home, it’s not worth just popping out. It is genuinely working to reduce the amount of influx of covid patients we’re getting.
People at the moment are genuinely being nice to the NHS staff and are showing us appreciation during this time, I just hope it carries on as we work this hard even when there isn’t a pandemic.
Just listen to what the government are requesting us to do. Stay at home, only go out for essentials. Don’t meet up with people and just stay at home, relax and if you do go out, ensure you’re keeping the 2m distance and stay clean!
I’m holding up okay, but these last two months have been the most challenging of my career. The shifts have been relentless due to the vast increase in call volumes, staff contracting the virus & generally staff welfare being at the lowest its ever been in the Ambulance Service.
I’m starting to feel some effects though, it’s both physically & mentally draining, I’m currently on day 10 of 14 twelve hour shifts straight, some of this is self inflicted with overtime to help the service but 90% is rota’d shifts.
My specific role in the healthcare service is frontline Emergency Ambulance Crew. So our shifts are split between two, myself and my crewmate, we each attend 6 hours each & drive the next 6 hours.
In the Ambulance Service is it’s impossible to predict what your day is going to entail. It can range from delivering a baby to a traumatic cardiac arrest. However, as expected, we are experiencing increased calls with Covid-19 ranging from flu like symptoms to Covid-19 related Cardiac Arrests.
There has been a huge increase in domestic abuse reported, due to this lockdown, I’ve already attended husbands/wives/children that have all suffered from domestic abuse within the last week.
Mental health is something that has never got enough attention as a lot of people are embarrassed to discuss it with other people.
There is a sharp increase in both self harm and suicide we are attending.
I live with my Girlfriend, Jenny, who has been amazing throughout all of this. Unfortunately we are currently like passing ships in the night as she’s a Key Worker and on dayshifts and I’m on the nights. Lockdown makes it difficult for my mental health, after stressful days as I’m in the house by myself with my thoughts.
Of course the biggest challenge we are facing is PPE, this seems to be a nationwide shortage and not just us, we started with full Tyvek suits & FFP3 face masks for every Covid-19 job. Now we wear a surgical mask and a flimsy apron that blows in your face with the slightest breeze.
I’ve now started getting sores on my hands from washing and hand sanitiser, and cuts on my face from goggles.
Our new latest challenge is denying family from attending hospital with their very sick family member and potentially getting the family to say their goodbyes to the patient as they can’t visit in hospital due to infection control. It’s heartbreaking for the crew and something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
The public have been fantastic, people are stopping us in the street to tell us what a good job we are doing. The Thursday clap is lovely, seeing the nation come together like never before. I know that we can beat this virus if we all stick to the social distancing and cant wait till the pubs open again!
My family & friends, they are all worried as we are putting our lives at risk everyday with all the reduced PPE and constant exposures to the virus but have all be so supportive and helping me through this time.
Stay at home guys, we don’t need to be dispatching trucks to you because you’ve rolled your ankle on a 20km run.
Stop sunbathing in the park, I know you might not have a garden but some people don’t have parents because of this virus, just because you don’t have obvious symptoms doesn’t mean you don’t have it and wont pass it on with underlying health conditions.
When this is all over and we are allowed out, stick to social distancing when you can & keep up good hand hygiene.
I would love to see a permanent drop in global air pollution levels, some cities have seen a drop of 60% of NO2 levels in just two weeks from last year.
People have banded together as a nation during these trying times with the public providing support for the elderly & vulnerable. It would be amazing if this could continue.
Key workers are starting to get the recognition they deserve, from supermarket workers to porters, the country simply cannot run without these people. I would hate to think when life goes back to normal, so does the public. These staff work countless hours for little money, lets give them the respect they deserve.
Having been in The Basement for 6 years now, I’ve seen the community do so many amazing things.
The NHS is experiencing its most difficult time in its 7 decades of existence and the effect its having on staff is worrying.
I think PPE is a lost cause. No amount of fundraising/awareness seems to be able to get us suitable equipment from the government to stay safe and staff, though dishevelled, have had to accept it to help the public.
I know appreciation is high from the public but it really is one of the only things getting staff through this. When you’ve finished your 5th straight 12 hour night shift and you’re ready to drop and a selfless gesture from the public, it boosts you right back up. Maybe some sort of pass it forward gesture system to random key workers could work. There’s a “Hit the Ambulance” page on Facebook that leave random things like vouchers, chocolates, flowers etc.