District nurses and community matrons who support people in their own homes and care homes across Bradford and Airedale if they have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 have been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.

Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust’s COVID-19 Community Home Visiting team is a finalist in the Infection Prevention and Control category at this year’s Nursing Times Awards, which are being held online on Wednesday 18 November.

The team was brought together in just 48 hours during March 2020 to support vulnerable patients with COVID-19, as well as their families and carers, ensuring a quality service could continue to be provided whilst meeting infection prevention requirements to protect the nurses themselves, their colleagues, patients, families and the wider local community.

From an initial meeting on Friday 20 March the team went to work on Monday 23 March. Creating a new team from scratch in such a short time frame meant considering the number of staff required, their skills-mix and where those staff could be found, as well as practicalities such as the referral process, location of the team and how to transport them to patients.

As well as community nurses and matrons, the team has included redeployed staff from the Trust’s Community Dental service, members of the Immunisation and Vaccination team, patient transport services and Infection Prevention and Specialist services. They work closely with the Out of Hours District Nursing team to ensure a 24/7 service for local communities.

Carla Smith, Clinical Service Development Lead with the Trust’s District Nursing teams explains that infection prevention measures mean the team has to operate differently to usual. “We take the utmost care to protect everyone, so as well as wearing appropriate personal protection equipment, our staff are transported by patient transport drivers across both our Bradford and Airedale localities and, on completing a session, staff return to their base at our Lynfield Mount hospital for a shower.”

Creating a bespoke team to identify and effectively support patients with COVID-19 has helped to relieve anxiety amongst other front-line key workers whilst managing demand and need in a manner that has been safe, effective, responsive and well-led.

And because the team deals solely with people who have suspected or confirmed of COVID-19 their understanding of the condition and learning gained from treating patients means they are well placed to develop how care is provided as the pandemic progresses, as well as to ensure continuity of care for this group of patients.

Commenting on the team’s shortlisting for the Nursing Times award, Carla says: “We’re delighted to be finalists and thrilled that our work is being recognised in this way. Everyone in the team is proud to be a part of it, delivering care to the most vulnerable patients in our communities throughout this particularly challenging and unprecedented time.

“The team spirit and enthusiasm of those who work in the team is simply outstanding. They always go that extra mile to ensure that patients and their relatives are supported throughout their journey, whatever the outcome may be.”