How the Pandemic affected us:
In early March 2020 we were still recruiting in Cambridge as usual. Later that month when the government instructed staff to work from home, we came up with suitable plans to continue recruitment without collecting samples:
- People were still free to enquire about signing up
- We sent out e consents and data collection sheets for people to read sign and return
- We agreed with the individual that we would follow up with them once it was safe to do so to collect the first stage 1 blood or saliva sample
- By recruiting via e consent and data collection sheet we were still able to invite these new members to online studies – something that has grown over the last year!
We are now well into 2021 and have started to invite members recruited over the lockdown to provide their first sample!
As recruitment slowed down due to the lack of recruitment events, the stage 1 Cambridge team were able to catch up on work and update processes for the future. We offered our help to the research nurses for COVID-19 recruitment which soon escalated and before we knew it we were recalling hundreds of new members to a serology-based COVID-19 BioResource study.
We now deal with the COVID-19 BioResource recruitment. We used our time wisely during the pandemic as less Cambridge recruitment meant we were able to concentrate on developing our new member database.
Due to structural changes within the NIHR BioResource, staff roles cover national as well as local recruitment. This was a huge challenge for us as we needed to streamline processes and deal with the large volume of member data management. As well as starting to collect samples for Cambridge members recruited during lockdown, we are also finding ways to collect samples for members that live around the country.
Working from home has gone well so far although we have needed to be present in the office to deal with members’ paperwork. It has been nice to have a little flexibility over the last year and we look forward to a brighter and busier future.
Looking to the future:
We returned to the office in the summer of 2020 to deal with COVID-19 BioResource paperwork. We started off with a couple of days a week and now have at least one staff member in the office each day.
We hosted the Cambridge Advisory panel meeting via zoom which worked really well for our panel members. We received excellent feedback and had a great chair that ensured the meeting agenda was discussed carefully and kept short and sweet. We use TEAMS to its full advantage and even attend a monthly yoga class together ran by the University of Cambridge Clinical School.
We are so impressed with our members who, despite the situation, have still helped with our studies. Thank you all so much. Your contribution has been immense.