By now, it is a well-known fact that the pressures of responding to COVID-19 is impacting every part of society, from students to teachers, parents to the elderly, workers in the hospitality industry to transport staff, to name a few. But more than any other organisation, the NHS is on the forefront of the COVID-19 response and is acutely feeling the stress of supporting those who are vulnerable to the illness. In addition, services delivered by other frontline staff such as allied health professionals and social workers are also under increased pressure. The government has been urging the public to help them fight the pandemic in various ways. The university has heeded this call and is offering frontline support with the help of its staff and students.
Everyone at RGU is immensely proud of our staff and students for bravely volunteering to support the emergency response at this challenging time. Lecturers and mentors are there to support our students all the way over the coming months. We know our students will demonstrate professionalism, compassion and dedication and their contributions will be remembered long after this crisis is over.
Our Nurses and Midwives
Since 13 April, over 500 RGU student nurses and midwives have begun their preparation to undertake paid placements, in both the NHS and care home sector.
RGU is one of the key providers of nursing and midwifery professionals to the NHS. The School of Nursing and Midwifery is working to support NHS Boards in Grampian, Orkney, Shetland, Tayside, Highland and the Western Isles in this challenging time by enabling students from stages two and three to be a part of the NHS healthcare workforce whilst continuing with their studies.
Eligible nursing and midwifery students who meet the criteria are opting in to use their skills and education to support NHS Scotland. As either frontline workers or in other healthcare roles and localities they will have a critical role in the government response to this pandemic, and the university will continue to support them in doing so.
Further, a number of staff from the school have been upskilling a range of healthcare professionals to augment the NHS workforce and staff have volunteered to work within the NHS in support of the effort to manage the impact of COVID-19.
Our Social Workers
Social workers have a significant responsibility to deliver services in order to promote general health and wellbeing and to protect and support people of all ages.
Some councils are experiencing reductions of up to 50% in parts of their social work and social care workforce due to COVID-19, with staff needing to self-isolate or where workers have caring responsibilities and, so, need to remain at home.
In response to the pandemic, legislation has changed to allow the Scottish Social Service Council to establish a temporary register for social workers. The School of Applied Social Studies has put plans in to place to allow 62 final-year social work students to enter the workforce early. Later next month, many final-year post-graduate students from the school will also be able to follow suit.
Many of these students will be working in statutory settings in children’s and adult services, supporting vulnerable people in their own homes. Others, including students from other stages of their social work education, will be providing care at home or working in care homes, assisting vulnerable people with washing and dressing, and other vital daily tasks.
The School of Applied Social Studies is in the process of seconding some staff on a part-time basis back into practice, into the statutory and voluntary sectors. To support this move, other staff will take on additional work to ensure that existing students continue to receive a high standard of service from us.
Our Allied Health Professionals
With Allied Health Professionals also on the front line, the School of Health Sciences is also supporting the COVID-19 response, as eligible final year students have had their registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) accelerated.
Diagnostic Radiographers, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Dietitians along with Biomedical Scientists from the School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences have been entered onto the HCPC COVID-19 temporary register to allow them to work in their chosen professions earlier than usual as part of the health and social care workforce at this challenging time.
Many of our students will be offering support within NHS Grampian, however those who have travelled home will be able to work with their local Health Boards throughout Scotland, the UK and further afield.
Although the emergency professional register only applies to final-year students, many students from other years on these courses are also working in support worker and volunteering roles, helping with the national effort.