As I drove to the Brighton vaccination site this morning I had butterflies. After a few hard weeks of long hours, problem solving and people resolute in coming together for a shared purpose, the race course was now open for business. What would I see? How would I feel? I felt a mix of emotions – energy, excitement, gratitude and so proud of being part of such a great multi-disciplinary team.
This week Chloe Stewart reminded me of how we should view the vaccination site through the lens of personalisation – so that was what I focussed on. Would my experience be one of going through a factory line type process in order to get my jab, or would I feel part of the process that will hopefully lead us to some kind of normality?
I got to the race course early – early and late slots tend to be filled by staff with patients preferring to come in daylight hours. My first interaction was with the marshals, who were helpful, professional and smiled.
Next it was to the main hall and as you walk down the steps you get a sense of the sheer scale of the site. It’s impressive in both its size and attention to detail. You go around the hall in zones – a zone to take consent, to check you in, a zone to wait for your jab, then booths while you get your jab, and finally on to your observation zone.
Now this sounds like being on a conveyor belt but it didn’t feel like that for one moment. Each interaction I had was positive, friendly and personable. I was explained the process and people called me by my name. There is a balance between getting people through as quickly as possible whilst not making people feel rushed, and this was done really well. The whole site has a real buzz about it, not only is it slick but it’s also human. And that really matters.
I watched in awe as people drew up the vaccines – a slow and complex process and strangely hypnotic to watch, but just shows you the skill and expertise required to deliver this vaccine.
As the patients began to file in I felt enormously humbled. Although everyone wore masks you could see the emotion in people’s eyes. This straddled between joy and gratitude. Daughters and son’s brought their elderly parents and the sense of relief was palpable. As I talked to people that told me that this was one big step on the way to back to living our lives with more normality. To be able to go out. To be able to see our friends and family. To be able to give that all important hug.
Over the coming weeks and months we will all have the opportunity to be vaccinated and as you walk down those steps, as I did, you may reflect on what this means for us as individuals, teams and our organisation.
So I leave for the weekend with a huge sense of gratitude and privilege. Not only for getting my jab. But to see both an operation and team that is not only slick and hardworking, but who display such compassion, skill, energy and humanity. Thank you thank you thank you.
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