Project captures voice memos of frontline health workers


Tuesday, 28 July, 2020



Project captures voice memos of frontline health workers

The Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne is collecting voice memos from health workers in Australia and around the world via a private WhatsApp chat, to capture stories of challenge and innovation as the needs and capacities of health systems evolve during the current crisis.

The project will analyse the stories by country and by type of worker to collate the key lessons on how we are dealing with the pandemic. Data from these stories will be analysed to inform work around boosting the future preparedness of health systems, including support to health workers. The hope is that the sharing of stories may also be cathartic for health workers during a pressured time.

Lessons from the Ebola pandemic

The Ebola pandemic in West Africa demonstrated the challenge of capturing insights from health workers during a health crisis. The challenge is there for good reason — health workers are busy, focused on their patients. But when captured, their insights — deeply centred as they are in their specific operational and cultural context — can be hugely valuable to the review and development of effective strategies that support health workers themselves and healthcare delivery before, during and in preparation for future epidemics.

Perspectives from Australian COVID-19 health workers

Recent voice memos from Australia are showing the challenges faced by health workers while providing rare insight into the innovation and human spirit we show in the face of adversity.

An occupational therapist described how she had adapted her practice to speak with clients via telehealth while acknowledging the challenges of engaging digitally with children. She also raised questions around access to technology and internet connectivity.

“One of the main concerns and challenges, I think for many in my situation, is what’s happening with those clients who are harder to reach,” she said.

A nurse from an intensive care facility explained that the families of patients were often afraid to come into the clinic, which was incredibly hard on her and her colleagues.

“Not to accept discharge is to not get involved with what was happening with their relative. That was quite hard for some of us. When people are dying and families don’t actually want to come, even though we’ve created a safe space,” she shared.

A doctor working in mental health services told of how his team tried to lighten the mood to help them deal with the sense of a looming threat.

“Yeah, [there was] just a general prevailing mood of nerves and anxiety, so much that one of the display screens has been converted into a de-stressing display, which alternates between puppies and an aquarium and things like that, because some of the nursing staff were finding that they needed something.”

Share your story

Want to share your story or know someone who has a story to share? Visit bit.ly/COVID-19HWVoices and text ‘hello’ to get started or send the link via WhatsApp to any health workers amongst your friends and family.

If you are a health worker, you can share your story by going to the COVID-19 Health Worker Voices website on your smartphone and opening the link to the WhatsApp channel.

Findings from the project will be regularly reported on the website and on Twitter @HWvoices.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Robert Kneschke

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