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Coffee Break with Margaret Mooney

29th September 2021

Margaret Mooney
Coffee Break with Margaret Mooney,
Business Support Officer – Support Services

Q.1 – What do you do and why do you do it?

I am employed as a Business Support Officer Support Services which is part of the Nursing and User Experience Directorate. Support Services is responsible for catering, contracts, domestic services, portering, security, linen services, transport, uniform issue for Nursing and Support Services staff and waste services throughout the Trust. My role relates specifically to contracts and uniform issue.

I think my job has evolved over many, many years. I started in the Royal Victoria Hospital as a clerical officer for the summer holidays – 1974 and before you start counting, I was 10 when I started. My job was the administrative support to a commissioning Team

I still get a buzz from my role in Support Services. It is a very varied job ranging from dealing with shortages of linen to undertaking the very sad task of funeral arrangements of patients who die without next of kin.

I do my job because of the impact it can have on patients, clients and staff. We are all cogs in the wheel ensuring that everyone is provided with high quality treatment and care. It is my belief that the ‘background’ staff can be overlooked but provide a very important role in the overall care of patients and clients in the Belfast Trust.

Q.2 – How does everyone benefit from what you do?

As part of my role as Business Support Officer, one of my responsibilities is the delivery of linen services provided by outsourced contractors. It is important that linen is delivered on time and in quantities sufficient to ensure patients are provided with high quality, clean, fresh laundered bed linen on a daily basis. It is also essential that sufficient scrub garments be delivered on time. It can be a bit of a challenge to keep a track of the scrub garments. Three scrub-vending systems are being installed in theatres in RVH and BCH; this will have a very positive impact on the number of items in the system.

When undertaking funerals for patients who die without next of kin, I believe it is the last service that the Trust can provide to the patient. It must be done with reverence, dignity and respect – what would I do if this were a relative of mine? I am making decisions on behalf of the deceased – would they want to be buried or cremated. I always find it very sad that in such a small place like Northern Ireland that someone dies with no one to undertake his or her funeral. No one is ever buried or cremated without someone being there for them – unfortunately sometimes it is only me.

I am also responsible, along with my colleagues in the Sewing Room/Uniform Issue with ensuring that Nursing and Support Services staff are provided with high quality uniforms that meet Health and Safety and Infection Prevention standards.

Q.3 – Tell us about a typical day at work?

Every day is different I usually arrive to work before eight and always start with a cup of coffee (this does not change) I then read my emails and try to prioritise my work. I may have received an email from theatres to say they have not received their delivery of scrubs or a ward is short of bed linen – these would be my priority.

The Contracts Cooridnator and I may discuss any issues relating to the scheduling of window cleaning and wall wash programmes that are ongoing and discuss any corrective action needed regarding standards.

I may be discussing issues relating to the issue of uniforms with the Sewing Room/Uniform Co Coordinator.

If I am arranging the funeral for a patient, this can be very time consuming. I could be talking with Social Services, Nursing Homes, the Housing Executive, Legal Services, banks, the police. I may have to visit the ward the person died on to view their hospital chart to try to get information on the deceased – what was their religion, get details of any friends. I would speak to any friends that can be contacted, to ascertain if they know anything about the deceased’s wishes after death. I will be liaising with the funeral director, clergy, and Registration of Deaths.

As part of my role as Business Support Officer I represent the department and Trust on several Contract Adjudication Groups. As well as my role as Business Support Officer with responsibility for Contracts, I represent the department on the Care after Death Forum, the Trust Corporate Record Group and the regional group that looks at the Administration of the Estates of Deceased patients.

One very important task is arranging for the installation of the Christmas tree in the RVH foyer each year and arranging the Salvation Army’s visit to the Royal Hospitals on Christmas morning.

Q.4. – If one of your staff was sitting with you right now what is the best piece of advice you could give them?

If it were a new staff member, I would tell them ‘no one was born knowing how to do their job – we all had to learn’.

Q.5. – Tell us about the satisfaction you get from your job?

I get job satisfaction from knowing I have fabulous colleagues who also share my work ethic, from the variety of my job – no two days are the same. I also get job satisfaction from knowing my role has a positive effect on the overall delivery of service to patients, clients and staff of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

Q.6. –Tell us a little about your life outside of work?

I have two grandchildren. I help out with childcare when I can and have recently started taking one of them to school a couple of mornings a week – depending on her parents shift patterns. Grandchildren always keep you busy. I have two dogs – Buddy who is a nine year old schnauzer and Heidi who is a small white fluffy rescue dog, probably about eight or nine. I walk the dogs every night when I return from work. I love my dogs (I also love my grandchildren). I also crochet and knit – I like small projects like knitting stuffed animals. Just recently finished a cat dressed in graduation gown and mortarboard, done for my friend’s daughter who graduated in July. I am a keen baker and sometimes bring baked goods in for my colleagues to sample – always get requests for treacle sodas. I would usually bring something special in for a retirement or leaving do. I like to watch television of an evening (well sometimes sleep through it) – I like dramas, real life crime programmes and quiz shows.