Early insights from sector’s COVID-19 response

August 6, 2020

The VHA’s ‘Ideas, Innovations and Insights’ campaign is providing an opportunity for the health sector to share and capture lessons from the response to COVID-19.

Members have been sharing via our online form and phone consultations and will have the opportunity to contribute more via a number of virtual events.

Some of the early themes to emerge include:

  • After rising to the challenge of the first wave of COVID-19, the workforce is again rising to the challenges of responding to COVID-19, but is beginning to face fatigue from long hours, the pressure of delivering care in a crisis and increased aggression from the public.
    • With staff wellbeing and retention front of mind, services are already considering how to balance the need for staff to take much-needed personal leave alongside re-starting vital health services post-pandemic
  • Transformation that would normally take years has emerged within months and weeks.
    • Whether ‘innovation’ or an opportunity to address systemic issues, the pandemic has provided an impetus for rapid change.
  • The sector has found it challenging to deal with the vast amount of information from multiple sources, particularly navigating the changeability of state and federal directives.
  • Many services report a high level of collaboration and information sharing between members and across public and private services, Ambulance Victoria, local councils and businesses.
    • One example is the collaborations that developed to support health services in VIC/NSW border communities.

In addition to the key themes emerging, the health sector has demonstrated its capacity to be innovative under pressure, with key initiatives beyond telehealth and video conferencing including:

  • using data to identify and target vulnerable people in communities and identify potential demand when the pandemic passes
  • remote monitoring, traditionally used for geriatric and chronic disease patients, for COVID-19 positive patients
  • virtual visitor ‘cafes’ for families and virtual meetups between aged care residents and schools/kinders
  • redeployment of workforce to upskill and train workers whose roles cannot currently be performed to conduct valuable work, such as remote engagement services and welfare phone calls for vulnerable groups
  • introduction of concierge models in hospital wards tapping into workforces with experience in hospitality such as flight attendants
  • community and staff recovery programs as the effects of the pandemic emerge.

To share your ‘idea, innovation or insight’ use our online form or contact feedback@vha.org.au