Case study: Mobilising the UK’s first quarantine facility in 40 years

Published on : 9/13/20
  • Sodexo teams mobilised within three hours to provide bespoke catering, concierge and security services for British Covid-19 evacuees returning from Wuhan, China on 31 January 2020.

    Watch our video about our partnership at Arrowe Park

    Can't see the video? Click here to view in another window.

    Another smaller group of evacuees joined them on 2 February, followed by a third group from the Diamond Princess cruise ship who went into quarantine on 22 February.

    A newly assembled, multi-disciplinary team, formed of experts from across Sodexo, was challenged with delivering services at this new contract in rapid time.

    Sodexo was one of NHS England’s partner organisations supporting guests 24 hours a day throughout their 14-day quarantine in the staff accommodation block at Arrowe Park hospital near Liverpool.

    It was a complex, rapidly evolving environment with many unknowns and multiple stakeholders including Public Health England, the Trust, Wirral Council and Merseyside police.

    A guest-focused response

    The first guests travelled from Wuhan, China at short notice, separated from their work and loved ones to be quarantined. They had minimal luggage, limited clothes, few toiletries and lacked home comforts. They were also acutely aware that they may be the carriers of a highly contagious and potentially fatal virus.

    On arrival at Arrowe Park on 31 January, Sodexo’s 20-strong on-site team worked to prepare for the first evacuees arrival later that day. This involved:

    • Introducing new infection prevention control measures within six hours
    • Installing a new mobile kitchen within 12 hours
    • Developing the following new protocols, processes and procedures within 24 hours:
    • Food safety
    • Security
    • Fire
    • Concierge
    • PPE, including new face fit mask testing
    • Preparing rooms for occupancy (cleaning, making beds, taking inventories, creating in-room welcome packs etc)
    • Making the site safe and secure by liaising with the client, emergency services and Sodexo health and safety experts to complete 35 safe systems of work within 24 hours
    • Establishing new protocols, processes and procedures for food safety, fire, security, concierge and PPE – including new face fit mask testing within 24 hours Introducing guidelines to cover issues including alcohol consumption and how to minimise social interaction

    The team’s objective was clear: to create a comfortable guest experience and find ways to normalise this highly unusual and emotional situation.

    Stakeholders worked at pace to develop a strategic operational plan (SOP) based on the logistical requirements of a functional quarantine unit and that took into account the potential actions required in the case of positive swab results in both symptomatic and asymptomatic guests.

    Galvanising our global business

    Sodexo’s global network supported the on-site team. Concierge call centre teams in Milton Keynes, Manchester and the USA managed guest requests 24/7. In Belgium, a development team created a bespoke digital guest portal to log requests and share feedback. It was also a place to share useful information, such as menus and FAQs. This freed up valuable time for the on-site team to invest in conversations that helped them to understand and respond to guest needs in a warm and empathic manner. It also meant NHS teams could focus on their primary objective: providing clinical care.

    Playing a critical role in the fight against covid-19

    During the quarantine period 2,642 concierge and 554 maintenance requests were logged and 6,984 guest meals, 2,736 snacks and 3,920 staff meals were served. Guest and client feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The team focused on each individual and created a sense of community in an incredibly sensitive and challenging situation.


    Truly outstanding support from Sodexo – the speed of mobilisation was absolutely vital and impressive.

    Anthony Middleton, Chief Operating Officer, Wirral University Teaching Hospital, NHS Foundation Trust


    Nothing was too much trouble. Sodexo were an integral part of the team and the facility genuinely could not have functioned as well as it did without their commitment and dedication.

    Wendi Ann Shepherd, Speciality Registrar (St5), Public Health England


    The Sodexo role was critical in that they worked professionally, quickly and made sure that they were communicating with everyone that was necessary. That made me really proud to see how we could all come together and unite to provide a service that supported all of those guests with their mental and physical health and wellbeing.

    Ian Burden, NHS England and Improvement