West Sussex County Times : 2020-07-09

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41 HORSHAM Thursday,July9,2020 www.wscountyti­mes.co.uk WITH THE UK GOVERNMENT to win war against virus NHS contact tracing went live on May 28. Between June 11 and 17: CASE STUDY seemed like the perfect job for me. “I could choose my hours and work from home – so I could do 8am to noon on weekdays and spend the afternoon helping the children with their school work. Then I’d be able to put in a couple of eight hour shifts at the weekend.” Sarah says the work has been rewarding and opened her eyes to how all sorts of people can suffer in isolation. She said: “One lady said to me: ‘Please can you call me every day because this has made me feel so much better’. “It is just having someone to listen. I can’t understand what they are going through but I can give them a platform, a place where they can vent their frustratio­n or talk about their anxiety and I can tell them everything they are doing is okay. So much of it is about reassuranc­e. “One of my first cases was a poor mum whose family had the virus and she seemed to feel so guilty about it. The whole family tested positive for it – the dad, a toddler and a young baby and she was convinced she had given it to all of them and felt so bad about it. “She was so emotional and it was one of those where she just needed some support. Her partner couldn’t get out of bed. He was so ill and the whole family was really struggling. “They were all isolating and she just needed someone to listen to her. I told her of course it was okay that the whole family wasn’t having proper meals – and that just grabbing something to keep them going was just fine during this time. “So not only am I there to talk symptoms and advice on the medical side, but also the mental side too – offering emotional support. “And then there is letting them know about the practical support that is out there too – like whether the council can help with the grocery shop.” Sarah says there is no typical day as a Clinical Contact Caseworker because no two calls are the same. Some need very little assistance and it can be a very quick call but others need to be handled with a lot of time and care. She said: “On a busy day I may do eight or nine calls in an eight hour shift. You can be done with taking all the details sometimes but then end up spending an extra half an hour on the phone talking about what they are having for tea! It’s that human interactio­n that people need when they are suddenly in isolation like this.” SARAH HARTLE Sarah Hartle had been studying to become a dental hygienist in Manchester for almost three years and on Monday, March 23 she finally qualified and was preparing to start her new career. But almost immediatel­y England was in lockdown. The 34-year-old (below) said: “It was literally a few hours after I had qualified. I had been studying since 2018 and it had all been building to this but now I had nothing, no means of earning plus I had two young children who suddenly weren’t at school.” “Then I got this email through from the profession­al dental council, asking for healthcare profession­als to join the virtual frontline. I had a look and being an NHS Clinical Contact Caseworker 6,923 people who tested positive for coronaviru­s (COVID-19) had their case transferre­d to the contact tracing system. 70.3% of these were reached and asked to provide details of recent close contacts. 1,791 people (25.9 per cent) could not be reached. An additional 263 people (3.8 per cent) could not be reached at all as no communicat­ion details were provided for them. One of my first cases was a poor mum whose family had the virus and she seemed to feel so guilty about it. 30,286 people were identified as close contacts between June 11 and 17. Of these, 24,734 people (81.7 per cent) were reached and asked to self-isolate.

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