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Management during Covid-19: Claire Deare – ‘Have a chief morale officer in every practice’

by Awil Mohamoud
30 March 2020

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Management in Practice is catching up with practice managers, for our Management during Covid-19 series, to find out what steps they’re taking to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. 

Today, we speak with Claire Deare, a practice manager at Saxon Spires Practice in Northamptonshire. 

She has been ‘amazed’ how quickly her practice has adapted to change in recent weeks. 

As an ‘old-fashioned’ rural medical service, the practice previously had no telephone triage or care navigation. It is now using this, along with a video consultation application and remote access software.

The practice has also ordered webcams and a number of laptops to allow more staff to work from home. 

‘I think it’s really important that we look after our staff. We have risk-assessed everyone and those who are in the more vulnerable groups are working from home where possible,’ she explains.

Ms Deare said she sees her main role at present as removing any barriers to work for the practice’s employees.

Protecting morale

Ms Deare is working from home, as she is in the at-risk group. She and other practice staff have been using messaging apps ‘to keep one another updated, and as a way to check on morale’.

‘I think a top tip is to have a chief morale officer in every practice. You can pass that baton around, but somebody has to prioritise keeping people’s spirits up.

She feels that this will become increasingly important. ‘I think this is the calm before the storm. As we go forward, people are going to be working in roles they don’t normally do or working from home. 

It’s important to recognise that that’s really stressful and we all have these waves of anxiety, depression and of feeling overwhelmed.’ 

The practice has an established wellbeing group for staff called Living Well at Saxon Spires, which regularly organises activities such as Tai chi lessons and holistic therapy. 

However, maintaining these activities ‘is proving challenging at the moment, as we’re obviously trying to practice social distancing,’ said Ms Deare. 

Showing appreciation

‘Doctors and nurses are getting a lot of recognition, but we need to remember the dispensers, receptionists and secretaries, as without them, the doctors would not be able to do what they do.’ 

‘It’s just about taking the time to say thank you — and letting them know we appreciate what they’re doing and that we care,’ Ms Deare commented.