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Interview with Pippa
21 May 2020

When the coronavirus pandemic took hold in March it meant that most of our clinical staff were now required to wear masks that covered their mouths.

For Pippa, who only has 30% hearing in one ear and relies on lip reading to do her job, this was a real barrier. We caught up with Pippa to find out how she and her team have worked together that’s meant she has been able to continue in her job role.

Hi Pippa, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how your career in healthcare began?

I live in East Cowes however I am originally from Bolton. When I was a bit older I relocated to south coast where I met my husband whilst working in a hotel in Portsmouth. My husband is from the Island and we later worked together managing a pub before I had my son.

My career in healthcare started when I got a job working at Westminster House as a support worker providing care for adults with learning disabilities. I worked there for about a year before moving to Wight Lodge, which was part of the Trust at the time, for around four years. I then moved to Whippingham Ward as a healthcare assistant.

A few years later I got a job at The Mountbatten Hospice as a healthcare assistant. It was a really different place, but I loved it. I really enjoyed being able to take the time to go that extra mile for my patients, such as being able to get them their favourite toiletries or combing their hair the way they would like. However eventually I wanted to challenge myself further so applied for the role as an Emergency Department Assistant and I have been working in this role for just over a year now.

Can you tell us a bit about your hearing and how coronavirus and what implications this had for you?

When I was around 13 months old I was really poorly with suspected meningitis and it left me with no hearing in my right ear and only 30% in my left ear. So this means that I heavily rely on lip reading.

Communication is really important, especially in the job we do so when I came onto shift after the increased measures around PPE were introduced and saw the team all wearing masks this really worried and upset me. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to be able to do my job and carry on working with my brilliant team. I felt like someone had taken something away from me.

It was after a team huddle where I asked our manager Helen saw that this was a real problem for me and asked what could they do to help? My colleagues could also see that I was struggling so they moved me to a different area of the department that was less noisy and a smaller team.

I also suggested that to overcome the challenge of wearing PPE was to teach some of my colleagues how to sign. They were really supportive of this idea and I have probably taught about 10 of my work colleagues some basic sign language which has really helped me and meant that I can continue in my role.

My star pupil however has been Karen has picked up quite a bit!

It has also really helped me polish my signing skills. I must admit I was a bit rusty as I was mostly lip reading at work. I feel like I have gone back to my roots and have a bit of me back again.

That is really good to hear that your team supported you and they wanted to help as much as they could. Do you think that the pandemic has change the way you all work for the better?

I think that it has definitely helped us to relate to each other better. We are a great team anyway, everyone listens to each other and takes on each other’s feedback we all know that play an equally important part to our patients and the care we provide.

With the adjustments we have had to make with COVID-19 we have had lots of new staff come join the team, they have felt unsettled however it has made me realise that we are all in the same boat in a way and we are all having to adjust to get through this.

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