How the TEC-MED project partners are facing the COVID-19 pandemic?
The current health crisis generated by COVID-19 has brought a paradigm shift that has significantly affected society. The sanitary collapse, the social distancing and the economic uncertainty, draw a unique social scenario that will bring important consequences at all levels. One of the most vulnerable groups affected by the virus has been the elderly population. Unfortunately, the virulence of the disease has been devastating for this population, causing numerous deaths at the same time as changing their social habits. The distancing has caused a unique situation for these older people who are suffering emotionally from this pandemic. The lockdown has generated a deep concern among the different social agents who are trying to find some relief for this group.
TECMED has worked to offer solutions and alternatives through three strategic lines of action:
- Psychological and emotional support
- Social involvement and participation
- Scientific research
Psychological and emotional support
Emotional support is a truly important issue to maintain the health of this group. Facing loneliness and uncertainty in times of crisis can be truly distressing for our elders. Some partners like The National Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology (INNTA) has set up a psychological support to both patients and staff as a response of the stress and anxiety that the COVID-19 has caused .In Lebanon, IDRAAC, as part of its mission to promote the mental health and wellbeing of their community and decrease the impact of risk factors and adversities on mental health, has been responding to the current state of emergency and lock-down. They have been working on different fronts focusing on the mental health and psycho-social support aspects of the outbreak to different vulnerable groups.
Due to the overcrowded healthcare facilities, Vidavo in Greece has proposed an online assessment and triage, as well as patient triage inside the healthcare facilities, in order to efficiently manage the limited resources for care provision. In this way, elderly can be better assisted and easily contacted.
Social involvement and participation
Many government agents underline the importance of making positive progress in this crisis through social support. It is a global pandemic that affects the entire society. The union of citizens as well as their involvement is beneficial to mitigate the consequences of COVID-19. In this sense, our partners have implemented several actions that seek a social response. The case of the Academy of Scientific research in Egypt through the Egyptian Innovation Bank, invited to participate in a challenge in order to submit ideas that fight against the COVID-19 pandemia. The activity was very succesful, 320 proposal had been submitted to provide innovative solutions to develop medical devices, equipment, masks or protective clothing.
In the case of INNTA, its workers selflessly participated in a solidarity fund by donating a day's salary to help government in its fight against the pandemic
From Spain, initiatives such as “Ningún mayor solo” [No elderly alone] have been launched. It is an initiative of the insurer DKV, the General Council of Psychology of Spain, the Spanish Volunteer Platform and the Spanish Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology that aims to alleviate the loneliness that many older people face due to confinement. It has been developed through a solidarity platform in which volunteer psychologists offer to serve this group to give emotional support.
Magtel has promoted the return to labor, useful information for the safety of workers. Through various infographics and direct contact with his employees, have managed to involve its workers in the importance of respecting the rules in order to contain the virus.
SEKEM have been developing and promoting a healthy and hygienic lifestyle, not only to face the new spreading disease but also in order to sustainably improve the quality of our lives in the future. They have been promoting a healthy lifestyle as the main topic for the first half of 2020 and is working on it from various perspectives.
Scientific research is one of the most powerful tools in the fight against the virus. While waiting for a vaccine, the researchers are working to provide solutions to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Academy of Scientific research in Egypt has proposed, together with the Egyptian Bank of Innovation, a call for researchers to look for solutions in virus prevention such as the creation of automatic units that allow the disinfection of people. In Spain, various university institutions have implemented various action mechanisms, such as the University of Valencia, which is carrying out a series of questionnaires framed in a research project that aim to know the opinion of the people who occupy management positions in the field of care for the elderly (residential managers and other positions of responsibility related to the field) at the international level, in relation to the management of corporate communication during the health crisis of COVID-19, and in the specific scope of information regarding older people.
By CRUE Spanish Universities, Santander Bank and CSIC, specific calls have been launched under the SUPERA COVID-19 FUND that includes research projects with modalities aimed at financing research projects on the virus.
At the same time, University of Seville has participated in many communication activities about the impact of the COVID-19 in the elderly population, such as publishing in journals, social media. One of the contribution to face with this situation is the adhesion to “For a new model of adult social care in the community”, a declaration supporting a necessary change in the long-term care model in Spain written, among others, by ESN’s CEO Alfonso Lara Montero. This declaration is signed by more than 1000 relevant people from healthcare sector. The coordinator of the project, Ana María Porcel, has signed this declaration too. In addition, University of Seville has helped spread the most important solidarity activities carried out in Spain through TEC-MED social media.