Susan Kintu's Story
My name is Susanne Kintu, and I am a Clinical Nurse Specialist working with the crisis Child and Adolescence Mental Health Services (CAMHS) team in Hertfordshire. Part of my responsibilities are to routinely identify risks, including safeguarding, and to undertake appropriate risk assessment and risk management plans where appropriate, to reduce crisis presentations of young people to the A&E. With the onset of COVID-19, my role also includes supporting the Acute Trust in triaging cases in the A&E, by determining if a young person can be assessed outside the hospital environment, and if so, arranging community assessment to identify and address COVID-19 risks for the family, staff and the public.
This has been a very anxious time in health care settings and certainly for mental health services, as the pandemic has placed an unprecedented mental strain on everyone, especially those who are vulnerable. Notwithstanding that many of these people are caring for someone who is vulnerable, struggling with finances, coping with the increased risk of self, and sometimes grieving for a loved one.
Working in the child and adolescence mental health services setting during these times has been challenging. Many of the young people I work with were initially very anxious about community assessment, especially accessing digital support for care instead of the usual face to face contacts, and the effect of the presence of family members during these assessments. They also expressed fear of catching COVID-19, fear of dying and fear that their relatives would die.
In addition to the concerns of the young people, we had to deal with the fast moving and changing guidance for providing care. In my setting, this included upgrading services to provide assessments 7 days a week and moving the services to the community to reduce A&E attendance and waiting times for assessment. This required us to quickly adopt to the new environment and requirements, through recruitment of additional staff, trainings, inductions, developing urgent protocols to meet the needs of the services in the community and sourcing of personal protective equipment (PPE). The increase in demand for assessments of young people has been overwhelming.
Almost 9 week since the lock down, we are making positive progress. The young people have been proactive in supporting each other, offering their peers words of encouragement and support, and motivating their peers to take part in activities, such as online PE sessions which are essential to supporting good mental health. The young people have shown strength and compassion during this difficult time while dealing with existing mental health issues. Families and carers have also positively supported the process. I feel fortunate to have been part of this important work, to support the mental health needs of young people during COVID-19.
We acknowledge and applaud Susanne for her services in mental health, and all other Kenyans who have worked tirelessly in the frontline, providing much needed care at this time!!!
We know many Kenyans are affected by COVID-19. We wish all those who are undergoing treatment, speedy recovery, and offer encouragement and support to those who are caring for sick loved ones. We also remember all those who have lost their lives to COVID19. Our thoughts are with the families and friends at this difficult time.
Tujijenge Pamoja Network (TPN), is a cross country joint effort of over 200 diverse Kenya diaspora led organizations and groups in the UK. TPN seeks to form innovative partnership across the entire Kenyan Diaspora, that are supportive and empowering..
IT’S YOUR STORY
We will continue to share stories from other Kenyans in NHS and all other frontline areas in the fight against COVID-19. We must support our NHS and other frontline workers and heed to the government advise to STAY ALERT. Let us continue to encourage and support each other during these trying times. We are all in this together, and together we will overcome!!! If you have a story you would like us to include in our next newsletter, please share it.
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Compiled by Kenya Healthcare C19 Support Group
KHC-C19 Support Group
Dr Sarah Onyango
Tujijenge Pamoja Network
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