A shared purpose at the Royal Hospital
7th April 2020
Healthcare systems in countries around the world are facing a considerable challenge in their Coronavirus preparation and response. The increased risk to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions is putting pressure on organisations which have a primary focus on caring for older people. As the average age of the Pensioners at the Royal Hospital is 82, it places them in an at-risk category for the virus and has necessitated a robust response from The Royal Hospital Chelsea.
76-year-old Chelsea Pensioner Leo Tighe said;
“It’s an unseen war, against an unseen enemy”
The Royal Hospital’s organisational culture, which has close ties to the Army, is certainly a strength under these circumstances. The Army is adept at assessing threats and planning accordingly, in overcoming logistical and supply challenges, and in maintaining clear structures and discipline under pressure. These qualities can also be observed in the diligent way the Hospital has adapted to changing government advice, its stores management, and its detailed planning - which was put into place well before the surge of cases in the UK.
One unexpected and positive effect of the crisis has been in a strengthened sense of solidarity and community, which has perhaps faded in recent years. While we have seen negative behaviours, like panic buying, we have also seen much to give us hope - people clapping for the NHS, singing from balconies, and volunteering to collect groceries for their elderly neighbours.
At the Royal Hospital, we rely on the hard work and dedication of our team to ensure that we can continue to provide a high standard of care for our Pensioners. Our staff are motivated by a shared purpose to make sure that our Pensioners are looked after. Many have agreed to stay on-site, away from their families, for long stretches, to meet the increased demands on our nursing, hospitality, cleaning, and other support teams.
“It’s had a tremendous impact on their daily lives; suppressing activities which would normally be going on - some of their hobbies. They are now sequestered most of their time in their berths. They can still get out for exercise. The Chelsea Pensioners come here for the comradeship and the friendship of their fellows. Many of them come from very lonely backgrounds and, of course, they have had to get used to experiencing that comradeship at a distance. But they are soldiers - they are used to self-discipline.”
Christopher Reeve, who overcame a massive personal challenge said: ‘Once you choose hope, anything’s possible’. An important part of our work is to be seen to ‘choose hope’ - it will inspire others to achieve the best they can and overcome their challenges”
said Gary Lashko, Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Hospital.