In the midst of the COVID-storm, this post (below) on Twitter caught our eye and made us smile.

And anything that makes us smile, we need more of… so we tracked down the lady herself to find out what exactly she’s been up to.

Whilst we were prepared to be impressed, we did not expect to be quite so stunned. Read on…

Sophie is an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) at Prince Charles Hospital (PCH) in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales where she was born and bred.

In case you didn’t know, ODP’s are the secret heroes of the health service. They are there to calm you before your surgery, to comfort you in an emergency and to rescue the anaesthetist when things don’t go to plan. They know how everything works. We wouldn’t be without them.

Sophie actually started off in banking but has been working as an ODP since 2011. Chatting to her, it is quite clear that her job is also her passion, as is her NHS family; it comes as no surprise to us then that she was nominated ‘wellbeing coordinator’ in her department. We are very glad she left banking.

How do you feel about your role as an ODP?

Being an ODP is one of my life’s greatest achievements. 

I feel so much love and admiration for my colleagues. They seem to go under the radar but with such grace; a profession that many know nothing about. With no recognition they work so hard to fulfil a necessary and sometimes difficult role. It is a role requiring knowledge and skills and years of experience with many a high and low. I am very proud of the NHS as a whole at this present time, but especially proud of the ‘SAS’ of the hospital… the ODP’s. 

At Prince Charles hospital the ODP’s are a small team of 16 but have been made even smaller (now 9) during the pandemic due to people shielding at home for their safety. We have been part of the COVID intubation and cardiac arrest teams, working within COVID ITU and many other services to ensure the cogs of the well-oiled machine keep turning. I am so proud of them all and just as proud to be an ODP myself. 

We love what we saw about your wellbeing work at PCH – how did this role come about?

Working as an ODP, me and my colleagues have been involved in many tragic events and realise the importance of needing down time during and post-emergencies. On discussion with my manager (Cheryl Davies), it was decided to nominate a ‘wellbeing champion’ to ensure that this was not overlooked during this time.

Later, I was proud as punch to discover it was me!!! I took the bull by the horns and got straight to work. My colleagues have been a massive help… and have helped get so many donations to help the staff and patients at this difficult time. 

Tell us about your work as the wellbeing champion.

[NOTE: this is quite an impressive list]

I have thrown myself in and allowed myself to be at the end of the phone during this whole pandemic as I really do care about the staff and want them to know just how fantastic they are. Their hard work brings a tear to my eye and am so proud of everyone’s efforts.

Some of the things we have done include…

‘wellbeing room’ for staff to relax – with comfy pillows, blankets, books, calming colouring books, puzzles, chargers… the works! There are also posters and pathways for support and help available throughout. 

In the room there is a ‘positivity wall’ – staff are encouraged to bring in pictures and positive messages from family. The wall is now full and looks fantastic! A great boost for morale during their darker days.

staff fund was also created to ensure the wellbeing room is stocked with food and drink (lots and lots of it) as well as toiletries, including skincare products and sleeping aids. I do the shopping on my days off between 60-hour weeks to ensure the staff have their creature comforts. Local Instagram influencer Charlotte James also helped to raise funds and decorate the room.

gym was created with the help of the physiotherapy department to ensure staff were looking after their physical as well as mental health.

A positivity banner was designed and created by local sign-maker Anthony from The Colour House for our COVID ITU. Anthony used all his own materials and manpower and furthermore made it into bumper stickers which we sold around the hospital and Anthony sold around the town to raise money for the Welsh Ambulance Service

Positivity cards were sent out to those in our department who could not work during the pandemic to help with their well-being and let them know we are thinking of them. I have also given out treats to all staff weekly… such as ‘NHS hero badges’ to ensure they know their worth.

How have the local community been involved with supporting your teams?

The food and beverage industry across Wales were unbelievably generous when I approached them with our story. We have food delivered daily from local businesses such as the Angel Hotel, Red Spice Indian, Tommy’s Box, JJ’s Deli and even homemade meals from locals. It has been so heartwarming.

The people of Merthyr Tydfil have also been fundraising in many different ways, from… 

  • Paul Barsi – sang in his garden and live on Facebook
  • the tri club cycled for 24 hours, and
  • 7yr old, Ben, walked 100 miles in May!

… raising thousands for the NHS – kindness of the highest degree. They have raised money and donated items to all areas of the hospital and we all genuinely couldn’t do it with them.

I also worked with locals Rhydian and Louise from EE, to raise money and donated numerous phones and tablets to the COVID ITU to ensure patients and staff can contact their families.

Do you have any advice for other departments looking to boost morale and look after the wellbeing of their staff?

My advice to all other areas is to work and stick together. We are all one team in the NHS and strive for the same goal which is to make our patients well again. 

Look after each and the rest will follow suit with ease. 

Stay safe all!

Sophie would like to thank each and every person and organisation who supported them with goodwill and donations – there are far too many to list here, she tells us the list is at least 2 pages long!

#wellbeing #inittogether

Image courtesy of @colourhouseltd @CwmTafMorgannwg


Maggie Thomas · 15 May 2020 at 7:04 PM

I am honoured and privileged to work with Sophie and also class her as one of my very close friends who I would trust with my life. she is always there for everybody with the biggest smile you have ever seen. I always tell people that she is the beating heart of our COVID unit. Nothing is ever too much trouble for her, and she will always go above and beyond to help in anyway she can, no matter what she has going on in her own personal life. She truly is one in a million. ❤️❤️XX love you Soph xxx

    keepwellnhs · 15 May 2020 at 9:30 PM

    Safe to say we all now want a Sophie on our units!

Robert Steven Davies · 16 May 2020 at 1:46 PM

Typical Sophie. The enthusiastic, dynamic, caring loving, thoughtful young woman that she is. A credit to her family & the NHS. Maybe I should have just said family, because the NHS is her family. You go girl.

Tracy Scorey · 18 May 2020 at 10:18 PM

I have had the pleasure of working alongside Sophie for many years. This is Sophie! Caring constantly about others whilst constantly giving 100% to her work and patients. Our department is honoured to have her. Feel proud Sopharella ❤️

Larah · 22 May 2020 at 9:49 PM

I have a tear in my eye and my heart is bursting at the seams. Sophie – I am so proud of you in everything you do.

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