• Libby

Transcript - Beyond Care: The Human Touch, with Ruby & Kim for By Your Side, Episode 12

You are listening to Constellations, the community podcast connecting charities, communities & causes in the two unitaries of Thurrock & Southend. In today’s episode we meet Ruby, who is the Project Coordinator for By Your Side, and Kim, who is the Strategic Lead for Health and Social Care at Thurrock CVS.

By Your Side supports elderly and vulnerable people to settle in back home after being discharged from hospital. As we discuss, this project offers truly individualised care for each person, and is making a tremendous difference to the lives of people in Thurrock. Listen on to hear about how By Your Side offers a unique, human touch to those in the project…


Sharen: Thank you for joining us today, ladies! Can you describe By Your Side for any listeners who don't know what it is?

Ruby: By Your Side is a home from hospital project. It's supporting the small things that maybe friends and family would have done in the past. But not everyone has access to that support. It’s to help people get home in a timely, smooth fashion. And with just a little bit of care around it, really.

Sharen: And it sounds amazing. So it's for people that have been in hospital?

Ruby: Yeah, but normally, at the point of discharge, they’re referred to us. Comes to the hospital social work team usually. Occasionally, we may take a referral that could stop somebody going into hospital by something small, like maybe putting a key safe on to let carers go in so they can be looked after at home rather than having to go into hospital.

Sharen: Okay, so it almost can stop, that step?

Ruby: Yeah, sometimes, yeah.

Sharen: Oh that’s incredible. Sounds great.

Libby: When would that happen? If that situation came up, where you'd be involved with someone and putting a key safe in, if they hadn't been in hospital.

Ruby: So if they'd called, maybe, a service called “Urgent Community Response Team” - they would pop out and see somebody to see what they needed. And if maybe their mobility wasn't so great.

Libby: Yeah

Ruby: That we could put a key safe in then.

Libby: Fab

Sharen: So has this service come about because of the pandemic? Is it as a result of it?

Ruby: No it was before

Sharen: It was around before?

Ruby: Yeah yeah

Sharen: Okay, so how long has it been running for?

Ruby: Four years.

Sharen: Have you seen an increase, demand?

Ruby: Yeah a lot.

Libby: Has it increased more through the pandemic or just naturally increasing over the time?

Ruby: I think naturally over time. We were really busy during covid. But because we were supporting people that were shielding and isolating as well

Libby: Yeah

Ruby: So it was as well as what we normally do, you know?

Libby: Yeah, and I guess a lot of people who would be using your services that might have had family and friends otherwise, helping them, couldn't have those people helping them as much because of covid.

Ruby: Yeah

Libby: So that would be extra extra people.


Sharen: So what kind of things do you do?

Ruby: It would normally start with a phone call just to introduce ourselves, ‘cause sometimes when you come out of hospital, you get offered a lot of things

Libby: Mmhmm

Sharen: Yeah

Ruby: And we'll try to be as personal as possible. So it could be meeting you when you come home off of patient transport, it could be making sure you've got electric on your key, milk in your fridge. If you come home with equipment that you didn't go in with, maybe you might need a little bit of a shuffle round indoors. It really depends on what someone needs to what we do. We don't do personal care or anything social care or medical. But we try and fill in the other gaps really.


Kim: So we’d noticed a great big gap in the service where people were just coming out of hospital, doing revolving door and just straight back in again because they had no support. They were panicking, they had nothing there, transport will drop them off at seven o'clock in the evening, and they didn't have any milk

Libby: Yeah

Kim: Or bread or anything. So we put together a bid of what we could do to fill that gap, and it started off just to, as Ruby said, make sure there's milk in the fridge, that there's bread, that there’s someone there to meet them, the key safe so that carers could get in. Because if there's nobody to do that for you, you don't go home until that’s accessible successful and the local authorities don't do that anymore - nobody does that.

So we found all of these gaps that were causing people to literally revolving door, straight back in again within

Libby: Yeah of course

Kim: A couple of hours because they’re frightened, they’re alone and they pick up the phone and dial 999. And it has grown massively from that. Ruby does so, so much more than she's just said. I mean she's moved people. She's collected stuff for them to move into residential where they need a placement, or maybe they're going to step down and they need stuff from home… Moved them from one property to another if they needed to live in supported living. and so there's so, so much more so so going into people's houses that had house fires and trying to find

Libby: Oh my word

Kim: Some dentures.

Ruby: Oh no!

Kim: Just all these things you wouldn't even think! Hoarders.

Libby: Yes, yes

Kim: Making it safe for them to return home. So so, so much more. And it is massive now. And the numbers show that the hospital team absolutely trust that what is needed to be done to support these people is done.

Very much what you can do attitude. We're doing as much as we can to support people, and sometimes that means moving the goalposts a little bit. But you have to do what you have to do.

Ruby: But also that’s ‘cause we adapt a bit. Because if you didn't know that someone needed it until they asked for it you don't know if you’re gonna do it.

Sharen: No

Ruby: D’you know what I mean

Libby: Yeah, of course. When you're looking at people holistically, which must be what you do like, you're always going to have a different situation cropping up, aren't you? Yeah,

Sharen: Mmm and actually I guess people they're not aware of what they need either. Are they, until they get home and realise

Ruby: You’d be amazed where we can source a secondhand microwave for free from.


Ruby: They just appear!

Kim: The call outs that go out asking for the most random of things from Ruby and you always think that's a really odd thing to ask for, but obviously it's somebody's got a need for that.

Sharen: What is the most random thing that you've been asked to source?

Kim: Table lamp? That was a strange one.

Ruby: Oh yeah

Kim: Has anybody got a table lamp? A reading lamp will do?

Libby: Aw

Ruby: There was no downstairs lighting, and I thought, if I can just get my hands on as many lamps as possible, calling it mood lighting.

Libby: Yeah

Ruby: As well as you can

Sharen: I like that


Kim: Parrot, you’ve looked after a parrot.

Ruby: Yeah, can you pick someone's parrot up? Yeah, they're coming home.

Sharen: So it's anything and everything.

Libby: Yeah it’s amazing

Sharen: Yeah and it’s true, what you were saying about people just ending up back in hospital. And it just becomes this cycle because we've got it with my mother in or at the moment. And she’s, since August I think, she's been in and out of hospital four or five times, and it's because there's nothing in place for her. When she does come home and she can manage for a couple of weeks, but then she needs something else.

Kim: We are looking at different ways of doing that, so we're trying to working with the ambulance service just at the moment. It's very early days, but looking to see if when they go in and someone's phone 999, there's not anything actually medically wrong with them, they're just lonely, isolated, frightened that we could take referrals from them, save them, just taking them in, because in hospital somebody will find a service for them to come back out again. And that's blocked a bed, even if it's 24 hours that they didn't need to be in there. And then they come home and they’ll phone again because you haven't broken any cycle. You haven't put anything in.

So rather than waiting until they've gone in and waiting for them to come back out to see if there's something, is there a way that we can work with keeping them at home? But obviously, within the hours that we work because there's nobody 11 o'clock midnight, two o'clock in the morning, it's not 24 hour service.

Ruby: That's where you've got that really personal thing though innit? “Right so I've gotta go now, but I'll call you tomorrow”. So over the six weeks, you can build a little bit of a relationship and then gently sign post on to the next person for whatever it is they need, befriending for people that are quite lonely that are likely to ring, or local area coordinators are really good for letting people know what's going on in different places.

Libby: That's wonderful.

Sharen: Yeah

Libby: So that sounds like a lot of stuff that you do. How big is your team of people?

Ruby: Well, there's me, there’s Sarah, there's Terry and we've got a little team of volunteers that are really great.

Volunteers quite often get a last minute email going “I need someone to come with me this afternoon or tomorrow”, and if we're preparing someone's property to come home to do a tidy around, if you've just been yoinked into hospital and your cereal bowls still there, and things like that, volunteers are really great for helping me get these things done. But yeah, we all just muck in, really, whatever needs doing.

Kim: Because it's such a good project, but, yeah, if Ruby can't find another person, and it's all hands on deck for the rest of the CVS team.

Sharen: I think the name By Your Side is so fitting for what you do. How did that come about?

Kim: What can we do with me and Christina sitting with a cup of tea and we discussed what it could look like, And then it was just that what they need is not a service service. They just need someone by their side.

Libby: Lovely

Kim: And that is where it came from, literally where it came from


Sharen: How did you come about the role? How did you get involved?

Kim: I poached her.


Kim: I dangled a big enough carrot to come with me. You're not happy what you're doing? Uh,

You know, you just get a feel for somebody because I worked with Ruby in the role that she was in through her fortune. The other projects and, you know, you just get a feel with somebody that you know, it just go the age tomorrow. Yeah, he's going to do what needs to be done. Ruby. Absolutely feed that criteria.

Libby: During the pandemic did your services change much? How did you need to adapt?

Ruby: We had more people working with us. The hours were incredibly long. They were very much a lot of it was around shopping and picking up medication.

Kim: Lots of risk assessments involved because people were coming out of hospital have tested positive. So it stops a lot of you going into the house. It was dropping the door step or and really crazy, busy time, and people were still coming out of hospital. And so it was on top of that, and in fact, people were coming out in their droves because they needed to clear the beds, didn't they. So they were sending them out and sending them out, and sometimes they weren't appropriate to be sent out, were they? It was just They needed to clear the beds that it was safe. Medically, it was safer for them to be at home. Not necessarily safer. Yes, When you have interviewed, when you went there was it.

Ruby: There was just a lot of people. I mean, looking back, we'll get much more now. But there was a lot of people saying that these guys put key so far and try and do things that I didn't feel that they are. Relatives should be home yet and they've been sent out. But looking back, we all know why they don't own that too early.

Yeah, just to understand, it really was.

Libby: Are there any common misconceptions about the kind of support people need when they're being discharged from hospital? Um,

Ruby: I personally think, it’s having somebody around you, like, maybe not a friend, but somebody is quite informal. So yes, you can get your education delivered. You can do it, but sometimes just need the time to settle in someone to listen to the little things. At the moment, we're trying to sort of diary for a lady that's come home. Feels a lot of so So she wants to get the things written down that she needs to do. So it's It's not always necessarily the obvious things that people need, not necessarily the medical care. But like the human

touch. Yeah, you know, if you care, was probably they're great. They help you do their bit. somebody that's there for the little things that applied on your mind that are worrying you that might stop you from selling so well.

Yeah, definitely. And they're so individual. Aren't they as well, So they can be so very definitely.

Libby: Yeah. I had a family member a couple of years ago who was being discharged from hospital, and it would be the things that other people wouldn't think of that would really distress her. Like if the mat were slightly wonky next to the door, that would mean the world of her for someone to make it straight. Or like the double check that the doors were locked because she wasn't very mobile, so she would normally go around and check all of the doors. And if someone went around and checked all of the doors, you know, that's what she wanted,

Ruby: but that that that can make you feel really anxious about

Libby: and unsafe and worried about all the little noises outside or something. So, like you say, it's those little human touches that someone can deliver. That's not the the tick boxes.


Kim: I came with you to help you with the hospital bed and to make the bed up and to do the mattress, Remember? And we've done it all. And this gentleman had had to be moved into the back room on that. He couldn't go upstairs or couldn't use the bedroom. And the garden was a massive garden, wasn't it? It was for so long and It was so overgrown and he was a keen gardener. He didn't have a television. He didn't want a television. He just had his radio. And when we opened all these curtains remember Ruby saying, This can't be You can't see him and look at that. That's going to worry him and upset him because I know that you've got volunteers and time bank people to come in and tidy his garden up because that's what he would be looking at. And that is what he couldn't do. So it wasn't just about making him safe in his bed and food in the cupboard. It was about the view of something that meant so much to him

Libby: so? Since you've been in the job, is that something that you naturally can pick up on? Or is it something that came over time that you would think that is so important for that person

Ruby: I worked with older? A lot of our selfish uses are older people. Um, I work with older people for a lot of years before, So sometimes I think part of my brain when I I already Because you just realise what's important. Difference in the race and really, you know, brilliant.

Sharen: And you mentioned volunteers before. So are you always on the lookout for new people?

Ruby: We are. We're always on the lookout.

Libby: Do you have a place where you like, put up on jobs, or do you rely on a bank of volunteers?

Ruby: What I'm always going to be fair is also owns around will be named while two more volunteers. And this is what I'm looking for. If anyone. And then if they're available, though, let me know if they're not, they might be available next time, so that's really wanting to do it.

Libby: So if someone listening thinks I'd like to get on that list, what's the best thing for them to do?

Ruby: Send an email, because I can't miss an email even if I'm out and about doing things.

Kim: It is on our volunteer services. Where was an ongoing volunteering opportunity? So through the volunteer bank and the time bank it's on, there is a constant

Libby: What do you love about your job? What's the best bit?

Ruby: When you go to someone's house and they’ve got a cat or a dog.

Libby: I am not. I used to be a student midwife. And when we went around some family's house and they had a cat, the cat would always come and have a snuggle with me. They know it's really honest.

Ruby: I like to know that someone feels happier. So sometimes we reject. This week we went into a larger bit into her twice really, really tearful and funny enough. She's got cats on her. She was the person. She was a little bit cheeky over time. And by Tommy left, she was laughing. And that is the biggest difference. Really? So yeah, what needs to do while I was there? But she also feels happier. Yeah, yeah, cuts have happened, you go hand in hand. Yeah,

Libby: your passion for it really shone through it, giving me the warm, fuzzies. So if anybody would like to get in touch and follow along with what you're going, what you have going on, are you on social media?

Kim: Find CVS,. All the projects are on their fabulous sort of comes and whatever team always put stuff on about what's happening, who's needy really interested.

Libby: Brilliant. Well, thank you so much for talking to us today. It was such a pleasure talking to you both.

Ruby: Thank you.

Kim: Thank you


Thanks so much for tuning in!

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