Behind the scenes: An ongoing series of glimpses into everyday life at The Clavadel

Profile of Emma Allcott, Matron

We managed to persuade our matron, Emma, to give up ten minutes from her morning break to give us a peak into her working day. Here’s what she told us…

Q. How does a typical day at The Clavadel begin, for you?

A. I normally arrive around 7.30am. Our dedicated night staff are ready to greet me for the morning handover and I spend time with the duty sister ensuring everything is as I would expect it to be, before embarking on the morning drug round. Soon after, there will be a multi-disciplinary team meeting at which time a detailed review is undertaken to ensure all our patients are making good progress. Plans are then made for the day ahead.

Q. And what of the regular business of the day?

A. The patients always come first, so nothing is allowed to interrupt the smooth running of our treatment plans. Morning physio begins at 9.30am and I take that opportunity to meet and familiarise myself with any new patients or take my own caseload of patients as required. We may have up to 20 new admissions each week, so I like to see the patients personally at least once a day over the course of five days. It is vitally important that everyone gets the attention they need. That may include a reassuring welcome on arrival or – for those requiring care on discharge – making sure everything has been considered to provide continuity of care. Having an operation is a daunting prospect and making that transition from hospital to home can be difficult. Patients worry about being burdensome to their family, but we are experts at managing such situations, so it is rewarding for us all to bring some much-needed reassurance and thereby bridge that gap successfully.

Q. Would you say your day is predictable?

A. Oh no, not at all. Of course, there needs to be routine; proper procedures must be followed – such as the regular drug rounds – and there is always lots to do, but I have a morning team of two or three registered nurses who are ably assisted by six carers, some of whom are at senior level. I co-ordinate the workload, and you’ll always find me around the building answering queries and stepping in to help when- or wherever I am needed. Then, as the day progresses, our physios will be constantly feeding progress reports back to me in case the need arises for anyone’s rehab plan to be adapted or fine-tuned. Some of the patients’ needs can be quite complex: the majority of our patients have had a joint replacement but may also include orthopaedic trauma and general surgery, involving considerable rehabilitation or convalescence. I also organise the GP visits and escort them on their rounds. And, in the afternoon, you’ll find me liaising with consultants regarding patient updates or speaking to potential clients – either by phone or in person. So, as you can imagine, I am kept pretty busy!

Q. No time to relax, then?

A. I enjoy being active, but lunchtimes are always relaxing. It’s wonderful to see our guests out of
their rooms and socialising – a vital step on the road to recovery. It is a joy to spend time in the company of the patients and that of our wonderful hotel services manager Giuseppe, who always manages to put a smile on everyone’s face. It is also gratifying to see our guests enjoying the hairdressing, beauty, and chiropody services we provide – they can seem like a small return to normality for those who may have been feeling a little vulnerable on arrival.

Q. Before you go…can you tell us a bit about yourself?

A. Over the years, I have worked in a variety of settings from the acute (I was at Guys and St Thomas’s for 15 years) to recovery and rehabilitation, which has given me a thorough understanding of the equal importance played by each stage of the patient pathway. I find it personally gratifying to see the transition from that initial, sometimes tentative, decision to stay with us to the point when someone is well enough to leave; it’s why I chose this career. I feel an enormous sense of pride at the professionalism and high standards we maintain here at The Clavadel. Clients who may have been unsure as to the need for such specialist care at the outset often leave questioning how they could possibly have coped without it – which means we have done our job. It also explains why those with recurring problems repeatedly make us their first choice when further care is needed, enabling them to return to familiar surroundings safe in the knowledge it will be a positive experience and as enjoyable as possible.

Thanks, Emma… I think we better let you get back to your duties.