As part of Cumbria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, agencies from health, Local Authorities, care, emergency services, military, education and industry have come together to create a network of ‘Community Recovery Centres’.
The Community Recovery Centres have been designed as part of the county’s plans to provide additional capacity so patients can be discharged from hospital. Both NHS Trusts in the county have already significantly increased the bed capacity.
As part of contingency planning the Community Recovery Centres will be used for patients who are medically fit for discharge and are well enough to leave hospital, but need a little extra support to get back to their home. Community Recovery Centre beds will ONLY be used if needed.
In South Cumbria, the Community Recovery Centres are located at Kendal Leisure Centre and Furness Academy in Barrow-in-Furness. These centres will offer up to an additional 142 beds.
In the north of the county, work is underway to develop the centres in Carlisle and Whitehaven. These centres will offer up to an additional 120 beds. The site in Penrith will be kept in reserve.
Each centre will be equipped with hospital standard beds and screens to help ensure the privacy and dignity of patients. The centres will be staffed by existing NHS and care professionals and volunteers. All will be provided with the recommended Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for this type of facility.
Cumbria Local Resilience Forum are continuing to work with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and NHS England to ensure the care in the units will meet the required standards for this type of provision.
Work to determine how many volunteers will be needed and how they will be deployed is ongoing, but initially the centres will be looking for people who may be able to support registered healthcare professionals, for instance by serving food and drinks, supporting patients to walk to the bathroom and helping support communication between patients and families.
Anyone who may be interested in volunteering should express an interest through the Support Cumbria website – www.supportcumbria.org.uk
Dr Shahedal Bari, Medical Director, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), said: “The NHS has received outstanding support from everyone throughout this pandemic and this is another prime example of what can be achieved when we all come together. We hope we won’t have to use the extra beds in these centres but it is fantastic to have them in place so quickly should we need to use them to offer that additional care for patients before they are discharged home.
“It has only been possible to create these recovery centres in record time due to the incredible leadership and support of local partners such as BAE Systems, Furness Academy, Kendal Leisure Centre and many other agencies. Cumbria can be mighty proud of what they’ve achieved in such a short time – a truly herculean effort and we can’t thank you all enough!”
Peter Rooney, Chief Operating Officer at NHS North Cumbria CCG, said: “On behalf of all NHS staff in north Cumbria I would like to thank everyone in Cumbria for continuing social distancing. This is the best way everyone can support the local NHS. We are developing our Community Recovery Centres in Carlisle and Whitehaven, and we will ensure the equipment, facilities and staff needed for the centres will be in place before any patients move there.
“Creating these centres is a huge team effort and the work required to transform sports halls into places appropriate to provide care to a high standard is significant. We would like to thank the Local Resilience Forum and all the local partners supporting this work.”
Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council and Chair of the Cumbria Health and Well-being Board, said: “It’s reassuring to see the progress that has been made with these centres over recent days. There is a phenomenal amount of work going on behind the scenes to get these centres ready and I’d like to thank everyone that has been involved. I share the hope that the centres will not be required, but it is much better to have them available in case.”
Chief Constable Michelle Skeer, Chair of the Cumbria Local Resilience Forum, said: “As an LRF we recognised early that there is the potential for our hospital bed capacity to be exceeded and we took the decision to act. It’s fantastic to see these centres now taking shape and I hope people can now see the standard and quality that we are aiming for. It’s a real testament to the skill and experience of agencies in Cumbria that we’re achieving this under locally using our own resources. It is my hope that we will never need to use these centres, but knowing that we have them in place in case they are needed means we will be better placed to save more lives, and that is our over-riding aim.”
Cliff Robson, Managing Director of BAE Systems Submarines, said: “The response from everyone in the NHS to this national emergency has been remarkable and truly inspiring, so on behalf of BAE Systems Submarines, I’d like to say thank you and pay tribute to their phenomenal support. Our community is at the heart of what we do, so to be able to play a small part in supporting these efforts was something we did without hesitation.”