Twelve months on - what has life been like at Frome Medical Practice since the first lockdown started

It’s one year since the first coronavirus lockdown started. Life changed significantly for us all, at home and at work, and at Frome Medical Practice too. Dr Helen Kingston, Senior Partner, and Practice Manager, Karen Creffield, share their reflections on the last twelve months at the practice and in the wider community of Frome.

It is interesting to reflect on all the change and adaptations that have taken place at the practice, for both staff and our patients. COVID-19 means we have had to implement large-scale change, at pace, to ensure we have created the safest possible environment for our staff and our patients, at the same time as offering care in a completely different way.  Overall we are really proud of what everyone has achieved.  

Supporting our care homes was one of our top priorities and we quickly implemented weekly support calls to them, as well virtual ward rounds on a weekly basis.

Supporting those who were shielding was also high on our priority list. We are really fortunate to have such a flexible and large building here at the practice. This enabled us to set up a separate area for these patients to use when they needed to visit the practice.  We made over 1500 welfare calls to this group of patients between March and July last year. It has been fantastic to see the joined up approach Frome has taken, working at its best  - people and organisations coming together, to support the more vulnerable members of our community.   

The COVID-19 vaccination programme has been described as the light at the end of the tunnel by many of the patients we have seen. Our team have all risen to the challenge of vaccinating our community, by working long hours and weekends. Reaching our 10,000th vaccine recently was a really big milestone for us all.  

We have adapted the way we work to introduce video calls and we are really delighted to have been able to offer virtual group consultations too.  At the start of the pandemic we appointed our first digital coordinator and this role has been an integral part of helping us make this transition to being online more. We have held virtual group consultations on managing pain and, more recently, on coping with stress and anxiety for young people, and the feedback from these has been really encouraging.   

One of the positives to come out of the pandemic is how responsive patients have been to our practice Facebook page, which we set up to help improve communication with our community, given the rapidly changing environment we have found ourselves in. 

We really recognise how challenging these times have been for everyone and this makes us especially appreciative of all the understanding, thank you notes, gifts and support everyone in the community has given us. Right from the start, the strength of the community in Frome has helped all of us get through a difficult time and we are really grateful to the volunteers and good neighbours who have supported each other. 

Interestingly, it is also a year since the practice declared a climate emergency.  We are in unprecedented times and both COVID-19 and climate change are perhaps the biggest challenges to human health we have ever faced.  We’ve been working closely with Frome Town Council and Edventure to ensure we have a joint approach as a town to take us closer to Net Carbon Zero and are looking forward to supporting this change together, whilst continuing to face the continuing challenge of COVID-19 together too.

Published: Mar 23, 2021