Dial for care

More than 200 student volunteers from the Faculties of Medicine, Social Science, Science and Engineering teamed up to provide health information of COVID-19 to about 400 elders aged 65 to 80 years old via phone conversations last summer and early this year.

Elders are discouraged from face-to-face human contact under the pandemic. As days go by, their mental health has become a major concern. The scenario is worsen by overwhelming misinformation. Funded by the Knowledge Transfer Project Fund (KPF) of SoCUBE, The Chinese University of Hong Kong Community Health And Multi-disciplinary Partnership Interprofessional Outreach Network (CU CHAMPION) transformed their face-to-face outreach services to a Phone Reassurance Elderly Project (PREP) with the student volunteers recruited from different disciplines.

 ‘I think the phone reassurance service was very suitable, especially under the pandemic. I did learn a lot, and enjoyed interacting with university students,’ said the elderly participant from HKSKH Lady MacLehose Centre Dr. Lam Chik Suen District Elderly Community Centre.

PREP has not only enhanced the health literacy of elders, but also the multidisciplinary service-learning experience of students. Before telecommunications, volunteers are equipped with e-learning materials ranging from medicine to social work and communication skills. They also shared their experiences and difficulties in learning groups. An online briefing workshop was hosted by social workers from an elderly centre to share their experience.

A Year 4 student majoring in biomedical science major said, ‘The project has provided me with opportunities to keep in touch with the elderly to understand more about their needs. Action is the best care for them.’ Another Year 1 student volunteer from gerontology said, ‘I know more about my role as a caring professional after graduation. I’ve also learnt to communicate with elders on phone.’

In response to the new normal in the pandemic, CU CHAMPION will initiate more interprofessional service-learning projects by this summer for students to learn through contributing the community.

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