23 Jul 2020

Vital clinical trials for cancer treatments continue thanks to the fast collaborative response by companies at Discovery Park, Sandwich.

Discovery Park Health Hub member Wren Healthcare are a nurse-led healthcare provider founded by clinical nurse specialists. Wren provides a range of treatments to patients in the comfort of their own home and are team partner to the NHS, private healthcare & pharmaceutical industry offering bespoke nursing and educational solutions. Wren Healthcare are passionate about delivering evidence-based patient care and education covering a broad spectrum of clinical skills and therapy areas.

During recent government-enforced lockdown, Wren Healthcare was able to adapt their existing services to provide essential clinical skills training to healthcare professionals on the frontline, and to facilitate continuation of vital clinical trials. We caught up with Managing Director and Co-founder of Wren Healthcare, Iain Campbell to learn how his company achieved such a rapid turnaround, and what advice he would give to new companies starting out in the life sciences and healthcare sector.

How did Wren Healthcare respond to the government’s lockdown restrictions?

No one could have anticipated the impact of the recent pandemic. The first few weeks were extremely challenging. The team quickly adapted and utilised our existing skills and experiences to be able to support a range of clinical homecare services.

We have worked hard to include the provision of a range of COVID 19 specific tests which include PCR Antigen, Venous Antibody and Point of Care Rapid Tests that are available to businesses looking to support their employees return to work. We also continued to support our healthcare partners with essential clinical skills teaching, having to adapt and facilitate virtual training to allow us to teach key clinical skills remotely.

You must feel very proud?

Incredibly proud. Being clinician lead and a dynamic company, the team were able to collaborate with sponsors and other tenants on site at Discovery Park to provide a fast project turnaround.

An example of this was the complete turnaround of a clinical home trial. Within three weeks of initial contact we were able to support patients within their homes, allowing oncology patients continued access to their clinical trials despite the challenges of the pandemic.

Tell us more about the challenges you faced.

It has been a challenging period; I was confident, however, the team had the skills to adapt and support areas of healthcare which included supporting patients enrolled on clinical trials within the comfort of their own homes. The nursing team and specialist couriers have professionally managed tasks within the community; examples have included patient monitoring, ECGs, Bloods, IMP administration and all the associated logistics.

The support A4P Bio Logistics has given us has been fantastic. We’ve worked alongside A4P’s couriers and they’ve worked hand in hand with our nurses to make sure that they’re on time and within the visit windows. It’s been a joint effort to be honest. The advantage of being at Discovery Park was being able to pick the phone up, speak to Scott Vincent at A4P, and to be able to have compliant clinical services operational within short timescales.

What will your focus now be in the coming weeks as we start to come out of lockdown into the ‘new normal’?

We are continuing to support Clinical Research Organisations and Sponsors with several rescue studies (clinical trials) that continue to require more complex and high-tech nursing services. Separately, we are committed to supporting our clinical partners by facilitating essential teaching.

We have prioritised providing our healthcare partners with virtual practical skills training, supporting them to keep services operational. This has also included the provision of mental wellbeing services aimed at supporting healthcare professionals cope with the demands they have faced during the pandemic. This has included group counselling sessions and mental health first aid training.

Finally, we have continued to support individuals and businesses with a range of nurse led COVID 19 specific tests with our partner laboratory, providing help with return to work and bespoke testing solutions for customers who require evidence of testing before they can travel.

Will you take this new focus forward with the business?

The current pandemic has highlighted the value of clinical homecare and accelerated a shift towards providing treatment within the patient’s home. Interestingly, some of our clients had not realised the scope of clinical services that could be provided and which would traditionally have been seen as only available within the hospital or clinic setting.

Home care has many benefits for the patients we support including reduced travel, dedicated specialist nurses and treatment within the comfort of their own home, and increased retention.

What have you learnt having gone through these challenges?

I’ve learnt that I work with a fantastic team. Whatever business you run, you’re only as good as the people that surround you. I’ve also strengthened the value of the service we provide. It has been a team effort to change, and a huge professional learning curve for me personally.

Being able to share experiences is an important part of business networking and growth. What advice would you give new companies joining Discovery Park?

There is a huge pool of talented tenants here, especially around life sciences, so my advice would be to attend all the networking events, to have an open-door policy with everybody.

We have fostered great working relationships with many tenants including provision of several clinical services. These include Firza, SCI, eXroid, Invicta health and A4P.

The Discovery Park management team always have an open-door policy, from executive level to day-to-day support. We have expanded our offices and continue to actively recruit members of our team.

How have you found lockdown?

Lockdown was challenging, we remained busy and have supported projects requiring quick turnarounds. We have also had to ensure we continued to support our team.

Being a nurse-led organisation, the ability to be able to play our small part in helping during a national crisis and support patients to remain on their treatment has been extremely rewarding.

For more information or to contact Wren Healthcare, go to: wrenhealthcare.co.uk

In part 2, we find out from Tim Davies at A4PBio how they’re scaling up the business and lending essential support to set up COVID-19 testing stations.

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