Daily Bulletin


News

  • Written by Jed Montayre, Senior Lecturer (Nursing), Western Sydney University

COVID-19 turned 2020 on its head for all healthcare workers, particularly those at the front line of the pandemic response.

Unexpectedly, the need to control the spread of the coronavirus has consumed healthcare systems. The healthcare workforce’s pivotal role in our pandemic response has been in the public spotlight. The experience has exposed knowledge gaps in curriculums, bringing to the fore questions about the education and training of front line healthcare workers.

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of including infection control, mental healthcare and ageing and aged care in all educational programs for health professions.

Infection control

All healthcare disciplines are expected to include infection control contents and principles in the curriculum. However, the teaching of this content was not designed to address a pandemic of historic proportions. Nor are healthcare workers specifically taught to apply infection controls in their workplaces with a pandemic in mind.

Staff at a hospital COVID-19 cases included many medical staff who weren’t fully prepared to cope with a pandemic. Peter Dejong/AP/AAP

Read more: Rising coronavirus cases among Victorian health workers could threaten our pandemic response

Infection control protocol during this pandemic requires all front-line healthcare workers to wear protective personal equipment, observe strict hand hygiene and adhere to contact-tracing measures.

In addition to including the classic “chain of infection” in teaching healthcare, we need to ensure students can apply these concepts in specific clinical settings. For example, aged care homes have a different set of infection control challenges from hospitals. These include potential breaches of isolation and infection containment measures by COVID-positive residents visiting other residents, a lack of dedicated isolation rooms and staff with limited training.

Read more: Should all aged-care residents with COVID-19 be moved to hospital? Probably, but there are drawbacks too

Infection control goes beyond competence in the use of protective gear and isolation measures. Management skills are needed to ensure everyone follows recommended infection control practices within their organisations.

For example, registered nurses in aged care must oversee and manage staff adherence to infection control protocols with their facility. These workers include students, cooks and cleaners, so they too must have the essential infection control knowledge and training.

Aged care residents smiling as they exercise Aged care homes that acted decisively to implement measures appropriate for a pandemic protected their residents from COVID-19. belushi/Shutterstock

Ageing and aged care

Older people are unquestionably at greater risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19. To protect them, visits by family and friends are often curtailed, particularly in residential aged care facilities. Not surprisingly, loneliness and social isolation are increasing among older people.

Read more: Social isolation: The COVID-19 pandemic's hidden health risk for older adults, and how to manage it

Psychosocial issues like these underscore the importance of a focus on ageing and aged care in healthcare curriculums. In Australia, pre-pandemic evidence indicated a lack of ageing-related education for health professionals. This was highlighted by the Aged Care Royal Commission recommendation to integrate age-related conditions and aged care into healthcare curriculums as an accreditation requirement.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that healthcare students are well prepared to provide optimal care for our most vulnerable age group.

Mental health

The mental health impacts of COVID-19 have affected all population groups. Preventing further mental health issues is now the main goal.

Read more: We can't ignore mental illness prevention in a COVID-19 world

However, not all healthcare programs include content that incorporates approaches to psychological distress and a potential mental health crisis. COVID-19 has exposed this gap in the education of healthcare workers who have had to attend to patients’ mental health needs during the pandemic.

Lonely older man looking out of window The lack of social contacts under COVID-19 restrictions has been challenging for people’s mental health. Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Education and training are essential as complex challenges can arise when non-expert healthcare workers manage mental health issues. There’s a need to consider the inclusion in healthcare curriculums of mental health education encompassing the lifespan and life transitions – for example, maternal mental health with pregnancy and childbirth during a pandemic.

Building in pandemic preparedness

The emergence of COVID-19 has highlighted the need for healthcare curriculums to include pandemic preparedness.

Preparedness of course includes clinical competence of healthcare workers. However, a successful pandemic response also requires building resilience at a time of change in health systems. Students need to be prepared for changes in health-service delivery such as the use of telehealth and digital platforms.

Access to healthcare must be maintained even in the midst of a pandemic.

Read more: Even in a pandemic, continue with routine health care and don't ignore a medical emergency

Upholding human rights

COVID-19 has raised ethical and moral issues relating to the rights of every individual to health. The pandemic has exposed inequalities at every level – for example, rationing healthcare resources for older people. It’s vital that healthcare curriculums integrate content on upholding human rights during a pandemic.

Understanding the social determinants of health in a pandemic also helps provide contexts for infection control, care for vulnerable groups and prevention of mental health issues.

Attention to the most vulnerable groups, people and their families who experienced COVID-19 deaths, and an understanding of universal health coverage are fundamental for healthcare students during this pandemic and beyond.

Authors: Jed Montayre, Senior Lecturer (Nursing), Western Sydney University

Read more https://theconversation.com/when-health-workers-came-up-against-covid-it-laid-bare-gaps-in-their-training-150289

Writers Wanted

Not feeling motivated to tackle those sneaky COVID kilos? Try these 4 healthy eating tips instead

arrow_forward

Sydney Festival review: The Rise and Fall of Saint George shows the transformative power of music

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister's Remarks to Joint Party Room

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it is great to be back in the party room, the joint party room. It’s great to have everybody back here. It’s great to officially welcome Garth who joins us. Welcome, Garth...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

BEN FORDHAM: Scott Morrison, good morning to you.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ben. How are you?    FORDHAM: Good. How many days have you got to go?   PRIME MINISTER: I've got another we...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Business News

7 foolproof tips for bidding successfully at a property auction

Auctions can be beneficial for prospective buyers, as they are transparent and fair. If you reach the limit you are willing to pay, you can simply walk away. Another benefit of an auction is tha...

Dominique Grubisa - avatar Dominique Grubisa

Getting Ready to Code? These Popular and Easy Programming Languages Can Get You Started

According to HOLP (History Encyclopedia of Programing Languages), there are more than 8,000 programming languages, some dating as far back as the 18th century. Although there might be as many pr...

News Co - avatar News Co

Avoid These Mistakes When Changing up Your Executive Career

Switching up industries is a valid move at any stage in your career, even if you’re an executive. Doing so at this stage can be a lot more intimidating, however, and it can be quite difficult know...

News Co - avatar News Co



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion