How social isolation can bring people closer

Amidst the current pandemic which has brought financial volatility, professional uncertainty and role ambiguity, we ought to pause at times and reflect on the impact of the crisis on peoples’ professional relationships. Colleagues here at GenesisCare have recently told me that they feel more supported, more involved and more listened-to at work during this pandemic than ever before. They also mentioned to me that during moments of difficulty, extreme tiredness, professional and personal doubt, they took comfort from our organisational values and purpose and used those to pick-up other colleagues in difficulty.

Can it be true that Social Isolation brings professional people and teams closer to do their life’s best work and build personal and professional resilience? This would be an oxymoron often used in Greek poetry to define a contradictory paradox, oxy meaning sharp and moron meaning dull.

Let’s explore the multiple ways that social isolation can bond people together, using GenesisCare’s organisational values to try and explain the oxymoron:

  1. Empathy for all – The ability to survive as an organisation and withstand the stress of the constantly changing normality relies heavily on leader attitude and behaviour at all levels. Senior leaders who are more visible and closer to front line healthcare staff, doctors and patients than ever, through daily teleconference meetings and workshops, is one example. A crisis team consisting of compassionate senior leaders who meet daily online and feel the pulse of the organisation, acknowledging individuals and teams for their efforts and value, whilst ensuring vulnerable members of staff are shielded, is another example. Each phone- call, text message or online chat plays a critical role in ensuring that people are thought of. A reminder that what bonds people is the sharing of a common purpose empowers teams to keep going.
  2. Partnership Inside and Out – Accessing new supply chains and working with the device industry in the roll out of a viral screening, testing and proactive infection control programme, has inspired confidence to our staff and doctors to continue working and offering a safe service within our centres. The value of targeted, up to date and relevant information delivered in written or spoken format (weekly newsletters, online webinars, video recorded interviews and updates) should not be underestimated. Feedback from staff, doctors and patients has shown that such information is very powerful and unites teams in the pursue of the common purpose. Collaborating with other healthcare providers and commissioners has resulted in new cancer patient pathways which our competent and experienced staff have supported across our UK network.
  3. Innovation every day – Brainstorming ideas through virtual multidisciplinary workshops has resulted in fast tracking of digital, IT and telemedicine solutions, which would have taken months to be delivered otherwise. Building on the foundation of our resilient and agile teams, we have fast-tracked the implementation and scale up of our virtual Cancer Multidisciplinary platform. Unique patient pathways have been worked up and implemented in partnership with our doctor network, to ensure that cancer patients continue to have access to life saving treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The broadcasting of daily exercise classes, meaning that for the first time all staff can exercise together through a virtual platform and through the support of our dedicated exercise and physiotherapy teams, demonstrates how passion can overcome social distancing enforcement’s.
  4. Bravery to Have a Go: System and pathway integration has been the key to ensure sustainability of our cancer services and being able to survive the stress of the pandemic. Global network connectivity has been instrumental in sharing learnings from other organisations. Implementing a digital portal strategy which enables clinicians to practice remotely, enables remote patient follow-up and supports data collection, analysis and audit has been delivered in a timely fashion to support social distancing whilst connecting clinicians and patients in an unprecedented way.

There is convincing empirical evidence from the above examples that social isolation in the middle of a pandemic has empowered our people to connect with each other and implement solutions to common organisational problems. Organisational politics have become side-lined and people have utilised their most valuable skills, of empathy, partnership and bravery to support the business survive but also evolve and improve through innovation.

This remarkable period has taught us that we don’t need to be perfect and that inclusivity is more important than ever. The future may be less predictable, but our teams at GenesisCare are more ready than ever to take on all the challenges.

Penny Kechagioglou 
Chief Medical Officer – UK

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