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Project Proposal Summary

Context / Problem Situation

The outbreak of the CoVid19 pandemic in 2020 has led to unprecedented demands on the society. Rapidly growing numbers of sick problems and deaths, measures such as quarantine, isolation, protective equipments, restrictions of movements, closing downs of premises have caused uncertainties in the population. The pandemic shows the challenges individuals, groups and organisations are confronted with in dealing with complex and dynamic situations and systems.

The CoVid19 pandemic had an enormous impact on the public health system and put much pressure in how to deal with this situation. For example, in all partner countries health professionals show signs of physical or psychological exhaustion and burnout related to their activity during the CoVid19 pandemic. Professionals who are “on the front lines of combat” are the most affected, showing significantly higher signs not only of burnout, but also of stress and anxiety.

Results of diverse studies and expert interviews of the project partners in their countries with professionals and decision makers in the primary and secondary care as well as in the home and community care emphasize the high workload and psychological stress because of situational and organisational conditions during the CoVid19 pandemic such as

  • absence of clear instructions and guidance from public authorities,
  • absence of coordination within the organisations,
  • shortage of human resources to implement the safety measures,
  • shortage of employees because of infections or sick leave,
  • absence of supportive management during their services,
  • social exclusion because of their contact with infected patients and clients,
  • pressure inherent in the professional sense of duty towards patients,
  • fear of contagion and ethical dilemmas,
  • need to reconcile family and professional life,
  • insufficient information about CoVid19 and risk of infections,
  • shortage and rationing of quality personal protective equipment.

The pandemic has shown the importance of the functioning of primary and secondary care as well as home and community care, because they are providing essential health services and directly responding to the outbreak. Public health authorities are confronted in developing under time pressure legal and regulatory frameworks to guarantee appropriate frameworks for the services delivered under changing conditions during a pandemic. The experiences highlight the relevance of adequate know-how and competences of professionals and decision-makers to cope successfully with such events, and the need for individual and organisational resilience in dealing in a constructive way with these challenges. 

Resilience concepts support the frame thinking on how the people affected relate to a crisis. Resilience includes the coping mechanisms exhibited by individuals and groups when they face environmental disturbances. Resilient individuals, as parts of the organisational system, are able to contribute to and develop to a resilience capacity. In this context resilience has to be seen across individuals, groups and organisations including their interactions. 

Objective

The project will develop an individual and organisational resilience training to improve crisis response and preparedness competences during pandemics. The main objective is to pilot a blended learning training to enhance resilience skills of professionals and decision makers in the health and emergency sector and related public administrations to strenghten their individual and organisational resilience to better cope with pandemic crisis.

A status quo analysis of existing training programs in the partner countries has shown the need for flexible, effective and short trainings. Bachelor and Master Crisis/Disaster Studies are offered by (applied) universities. Most of them integrate some resilience modules into their curricula. A limited number of them offer resilience programs in combination with specific topics (e.g. cyber security and resilience). Access restrictions are given, i.e. participants need a high school diploma or university degree; some exceptions are given for shorter academic expert trainings. Institutions that train health professionals but also other private training institutions offer short courses in individual resilience training, but mainly focused on how to cope with daily work and patient situations.

Based on the learnings of Covid-19 this project intends to define competences that strengthen the individual and organisational resilience first, and second, to operationalize them into innovative learning experiences by using a mix of different learning environments:

  • An organisational and individual screening will enable the assessment of relevant features.
  • A blended learning approach that consists of e-learning in form of web-based trainings (modular microlearning units).
  • Self-determined learning and face-to-face learning intervals.
  • Simulated real crisis case studies in a face-to-face learning environment that support the process of complex problem-solving solutions.

The need for flexible, effective and short trainings will be fulfilled by a high-quality training program facilitates the access to adult learning and training with the purpose that professionals and decision makers can acquire the skills needed. The usage of media-based teaching and learning methods allow flexible and individual learning processes adapted to the needs of the target groups. The teaching and learning through this training program will support the development of awareness of crisis risks, force coping styles and recovery efforts that are needed to manage them.

Implementation

The key deliverables of this project consists of six Project Results (PR1-6):

PR1

At the beginning a competence model is developed (PR1) that refers to individual skills and organisational capabilities with the purpose to promote the resilience and to implement them in day-to-day corporate practices during crisis situations in primary and secondary care, home and community care and public health authorities. In this project we will identify the needed competences based on a literature review and empirical investigations with focus on the individual experiences and challenges of the target groups to learn of how to better manage the individual resources and human infrastructure in unpredictable situations of a pandemic. A qualitative empirical investigation is conducted (10 interviews with professionals of the target group in each country). Based on these activities a comprehensive competence model is developed. Finally, different dissemination activities are undertaken by presenting the results in journals and at conferences.

PR2

In this Project Result a digital tool is designed, that teaches professionals and decision makers to assess levels of their organisationsĖˆ resilience to enhance their organisational resilience. Based on the aforementioned international standards a digital organisational crisis resilience assessment tool for the public healthcare sector on international standards is designed, built on optimum levels of resilience maturity. A training for professionals and decision makers of relevant organisations within the target countries is delivered. Finally, a network of relevant organisations for the future exploitation of PR2 is built up.

PR3

A digital individual assessment and intervention tool for individual resilience to understand the individual crisis capacity and to find ways for strengthening is developed. Further, a repository of materials, documents (identified and aggregated information on the topic individual resilience) is constituted. In a next step intelligent accessible search engine, which enhances individual training, also articulated automatically to the repositories and websites of national and European agencies and institutions relevant to the topic (data mining tool for automatic alerts on relevant news, tools and resources in the area) is implemented. Finally, a network of professionals who work in the sector to share experiences is built up.

PR4

In this Project Result an experience-based approach for developing crisis competences in real life and virtual environment by a case studies and simulations is developed. First, a real case study together with a digital simulation game in a Learn- and Transfer Center is designed. The knowledge system components identified in Project Result 1 are integrated into the simulation game. The real case scenario is supported by technical visualization by the project partner Immersive LAB. Finally, a three days train the trainer on crisis response training is conducted. 

PR5

A blended learning solution for a resilience training program for the individual and organisational level is developed. Through the identification of critical competencies needed to be suitably prepared in response to the pandemic, as identified and continuously adapted throughout the project, a 8-weeks training by e-learning and face-to-face teaching is developed and piloted to gain these core competencies. The training will be divided into 7 modules, depending on the types of competencies (personal, social and methodological competencies) and based on the identified core topics in the Project Results 1-4.

PR6

In this Project Result the key learnings and key results of all project activities are summarized and interlinked and will address customized recommendations to all relevant stakeholders to ensure sustainable implementation and change to a better sustainability of the project outcomes by setting up local disaster awareness networks.

Expected Results

The target group will learn to become more resilient as organisations learn of how to balance the allocation of resources for routine health services and pandemic response and how to create innovative solutions for service delivery during a pandemic.

It is also essential that the professionals improve their individual resilience by developing their competences in the field of solution orientation, self-regulation, assuming responsibility, network orientation or future planning with the objective to react more flexible, adaptable, creative and confident on environmental disturbances. Successful copying strategies require certain knowledge by professionals and decision makers affected. Despite of lacking crisis management experiences and training, people might have to make already far-reaching decisions and actions. A specific set of individual key competences in dealing and overcoming unstable situations is needed, e.g. a set of interpersonal and communicative competences are of relevance, but also cognitive competences such as critical thinking, analytical skills, creativity and problem solving are essential. 

Further, the project will also provide educators with new competences to reinforce their teaching practice in the field of how to strengthen the individual and organisational resilience to better cope with pandemics. They will learn about the specific conditions of primary and secondary care as, home and community care and public health authorities and their dependances with internal and external stakeholders. They are getting trained in dealing with an innovative learning environment of learning activities that allows individual dispositions of learners by using the potential of digital technologies.

The project training course will be integrated into the training offers of the project partners, associated partners and other competence centers across Europe. In this context an important role is given to the universities that will integrate the validated training modules into own, already existing learning programs, especially in the field of continuing education programs. This allows the transition of our specific vocational education program to tertiary education; learners have the possibility to an access to higher education. Single modules of our training course will be also integrated in national and international training co-operations with other training institutions. The planned training program will promote the transfer of the relevant knowledge, the competence acquisition and the exercise of actions and decision making in complex pandemic crisis situations. 

Benefits of cooperating with transnational partners 

The output of the project is to create an innovative learning environment of learning activities that allows individual dispositions of learners by using the potential of digital technologies. The competences of individuals needed to deal successfully with the complexity of pandemics as well as different requirements of the target groups ask for openness in the learning process by offering self-learning rooms in combination with defined learning processes.

The planned training environment will be a combination of e-learning, interaction tools and traditional, place-based classroom parts. Such a blended learning format reaches highest learning efficiency. A strong focus is given to action oriented learning objectives. Furthermore, the design of the learning experiences will strongly emphasize on a sustainable continuation of the course.

A strong focus is given to case study learning from real scenarios based on the learning experiences during the CoVid19 pandemic. The complexity of its crisis management, the tasks that have to be fulfilled were accompanied by time pressure and intensive Collaboration across organisational boundaries. These aspects will be taken into consideration in the different learning environments. In this project we link the identified needed competences with real case scenarios that are embedded in the curriculum of our training environment. The case study research method approaches these issues in a structured and empirical way. It offers the possibility of in-depth research about the persons affected by a crisis. Moreover, the various perspectives integrated in a case study offer the perfect opportunity to depict the complexity and multiple impact factors a crisis brings along. Small case studies are presented in the e-learning environment, a largescale simulated case study is designed for the face-to-face training.

The training will be divided into modules, further divided into submodules, depending on the types of competences (personal, social and methodological competences) to be delivered. The modular framework gives the participants the possibility to focus on the needed competences. The learning process will be controlled by tasks that are based on problems in practice. The content and the material will be chosen and adapted according to the identified competences.

Sharing, Promotion and Use of Project’s Results

A large number of different internal and external stakeholders and related organisations will be involved in this process. As these stakeholders and organisations take an active part in the development process a multiplier effect is guaranteed to sharing and promoting our activities inside and outside of our partnership. 

Following quantitative criteria were defined:

  • At least 50 experts are involved in the project during the qualitative empirical research conducted in PR1 (10 interviews with stakeholders in each country).
  • At least 180 experts are involved through the multiplier events (30 people per partner).
  • At least 70 experts are invited at the final conference with the objective to get an overview about the project and to promote the learning program.
  • In total, at least 50 organisations with their staff will be informed and involved within the project (10 organisations per country).
  • The learning experience (PR5) will involve at least 15 participants for each country to test the pilot training (in total 75 participants).

Finally, at least 375 people and 50 organisations are involved in the project activities. At least, more external stakeholder will be reached as a part of our dissemination, promotion and sustainability activities throughout Europe. All partners have a wide range of external networks composed by local and regional institutions in the health sector (e.g. emergency, hospital, nursing homes, …), NGO’s (e.g. Red Cross, Malteser, Caritas, different smaller institutions offering therapies etc …) and public authorities (e.g. administrations, civic public institutions, …). 

Multiplier Events Details 

Piloting Mini Workshops and Dissemination Activities

Every partner will pilot workshops with relevant experts and practitioners from the target group in order to raise awareness about the project and its outputs based on the research undertaken in the different Project Results. The events will be also organised for supporting the partnership to disseminate project outcomes and contents and serve as a networking event for the sustainable implementation of project final outcomes at regional and national level.

Final Conference for Dissemination and Sustainability

UMIT TIROL, together with Hafelekar, will organise the final conference in Austria. The project partners and additional 30 stakeholders from Austria and 10 from other countries are invited to participate. Also 30 stakeholders from different countries may visit the conference via virtual participation. We will present existing best practices, educational resources, and project digital tools outcome. The final event is accompanied with a press conference and dissemination activities to inform and promote the outcome.