Through a glass darkly – understanding and adapting to Covid-19

11 June 2020

In a blog to mark the research contribution of our members as part of the Council’s #unihealth campaign, the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Medicine at Edge Hill University have written a blog on how they are undertaking research to understand and adapt to the impact of Covid-19. 

From our isolated islands in the pandemic seas, we have watched our familiar world change before our eyes as the invisible adversary has advanced. Individually and collectively we have striven to understand our foe and fought to stem the tide of death and disease. It is a difficult task, with incremental and irregular gains in knowledge dependent upon our ability to socially and logistically adapt. Our lives have been rapidly reshaped by technology that has been advancing for decades but the crisis has stimulated a tsunami of tech that is remolding our social and working environment.

There is broad consensus in the academic community that many of these adaptations will irrevocably change the way we live and work. The challenge for us at this time is to quickly respond and capture our experiences of the pandemic so that we may be better prepared for the next one. The Faculty of Health, Social Care and Medicine at Edge Hill University supports a thriving community of academics working on a diverse portfolio of research involving communities, patients, health professionals, NHS and social care infrastructure. Although a proportion of the work we support, particularly with the NHS, has been suspended while much-needed resources are diverted elsewhere, we are researching the pandemic in a number of ways.

Our research cluster Children, Young People and Families, are leading an international group exploring children’s understanding of the pandemic and how information is communicated. This will help develop strategies to improve their experiences so that childhood knowledge shapes future protective health behaviours.

Researchers in the Improving Professional Practice research cluster have contributed to the development of an international survey of the experiences of emergency service professionals. This may help to shape how these services train staff and respond to future pandemics. Recommendations on ways of adapting to online learning using digital technologies have been published by members of this research group to encourage and facilitate novel approaches to teaching. One of our practicing surgical academic researchers is exploring how to improve communication between healthcare professionals and patients undergoing head and neck cancer treatments during the current crisis.

The Prevention and Management of Conditions in Adults research cluster is supporting the development of future work related to the pandemic in a number of ways. One of our senior clinical academics is working with a UK team to explore the experiences of respiratory nurses caring for patients with Covid-19. This work is likely to influence future clinical practice and support for nurses and patients during pandemics. Similarly, our arts and therapies researchers are developing work exploring the psychological impact of the illness on the mental health and well-being of staff involved in the pandemic.

All of this work will contribute to the wider body of knowledge and learning arising from Covid-19. Although there is still much that we do not understand as we peer through the glass darkly at the crisis, we will ultimately improve our understanding and therefore our ability to more effectively manage its consequences and future similar pandemics.


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