Case Study 1: COVID-19 & Vaccines on Facebook Live
On Wednesday 22nd September, The Water Well Project delivered a session on COVID-19 & Vaccines and COVID-19 Self Care to a Fijian community group. This session was run via Zoom and livestreamed to 5 Fijian community group Facebook pages. It was attended by 713 participants, catching notable attention from multiple radio stations, and attended by a prominent Filipino Consulate member. The session remained on these Facebook pages for a week following the livestreamed session reaching over 2,200 community members and was shared 87 times.
The session covered high interest topics such as COVID-19 Vaccines for children and pregnant women, the accessibility of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as COVID Self Care including preserving mental health, and healthy eating. The participants actively engaged in the session, taking the opportunity to ask questions of the healthcare professionals including about health and wellbeing of young people, new mothers and elderly community members who have been heavily impacted by the pandemic. This was done by the community representative calling on individuals to ask their questions out loud, allowing for a conversational dialogue to develop between the participant and the facilitators.
One of our volunteer healthcare professionals who facilitated this session noted that the “FB Live session was fantastic. It would be great to have more of these type of sessions in the future.”
Community members asked important questions about COVID-19 and the Vaccines during this session, including:
- Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for the foetus? Depending on trimesters, can there be an effect on the developmental growth of the foetus?
- Lots of people have reported noticing changes in their menstrual cycle – is this linked to the vaccine?
- How do we protect children under 5 years old from COVID if they’re not going to be vaccinated yet?
- How can we persuade friends and family members who are opposed to vaccines to change their minds?
- Is it safe for elderly people to be vaccinated? They are taking lots of medications for health problems – is it still safe?
- With 5 more weeks of extended lockdown, what are some creative ways to remain engaged with elderly people in our community?
- Is it necessary to have a vaccine if you’ve already had COVID?
- How does someone get the vaccine if they have a fear of needles?
- What would be your advice to new mums who are feeling more isolated due to lockdown, and therefore more vulnerable to post-natal depression?
- Any advice for parents who have teenagers exhibiting signs of depression and suicidal tendencies?
- Is Nurofen better than Panadol following the vaccine?
- Should I be sending my child to childcare given that there are increasing numbers of childcares becoming Tier 1 exposure sites?
- Does a person with type O blood have natural immunity to COVID?
Case Study 2: Partnering with Parents and Primary School Teachers in Victoria regarding sending kids back to school
On 18 October 2021, The Water Well Project facilitated a health education session with 70 parents and teachers from a primary school in south-east Melbourne. The session was co-designed with the principal and the community representative from the school who collected questions from parents and teachers before the session. These questions helped volunteers to tailor the session to the specific needs of the group.
It was a lively discussion about how to send kids back to primary school safely during the pandemic. After months of lockdown, children in Victoria were returning to schools. Parents were worried and anxious about the safety of their kids and other family members. The session provided an excellent example of how parents, teachers and healthcare professionals can work together to help with the transition.
The school is in one of the hotspots in Melbourne and has had positive COVID-19 cases. These were some of the common questions that parents asked during the session:
- If my child has attended a tier 1 site (for example the classroom) and then tested negative, do they need to quarantine away from the family?
- My child has been advised to get the vaccine. Will it be safe for him?
- Will wearing a mask affect my child’s asthma and mental health? What are the exemptions for mask wearing?
- Can we continue online learning? I am worried about my child going back to school.
During the session parents revealed their concerns about the rules regarding quarantine and the impact of mask-wearing on children’s psychological and overall wellbeing. Some expressed their hesitancy to get their children vaccinated. Teachers asked questions about what measures needed to be taken to keep students and teachers safe in the classroom, what kinds of face masks to wear, and how effective air purifiers are.
The testimonials collected from the participants indicate that the session was a great success. A teacher stated, “I think the whole session was informative and in a way comforting. I enjoyed the videos on how vaccines worked. Thank you to the three lovely doctors who gave their time to reassure and guide our school community.”
A parent mentioned, “Respectfully debunking doubts about the effectiveness and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines and what does being in isolation mean was very helpful! The volunteers did it so respectfully despite some hard questions!”
These quotes demonstrate the need among the teachers and parents for having access to a forum where they can ask ‘hard’ questions to doctors which may not seem appropriate to ask in a traditional healthcare setting. The session provided such a platform which participants found comforting and reassuring.
The community representative’s wonderful feedback also indicated great satisfaction with the session. She mentioned, “You were all more than amazing. I got so many positive messages during your session. You were all brilliant and all worked so well together. We at St Anthony’s were privileged to have three eloquent health professionals explain, demystify and answer everything about Covid-19. Many thanks for your valuable time. Everyone needs to hear you speak! You make a great team.”
Further feedback from the school staff noted that, “Words cannot express how fantastic this session was. The Healthcare Professionals answered all the questions posed to them calmly and in a way that was easy to understand. [The volunteers] should be congratulated on their ability to deliver positive health messages to our very diverse community. I was so appreciative of their time and wish them all the very best in the future. It was a privilege to be part of this session.”
Case Study 3 – Health Services Assistants Session & COVID-19 Vaccines
On 22 March 2022, two of our volunteer healthcare professionals, together with a Water Well Project Health Educator, facilitated a unique and interactive session with a Swinburne EAL (English as a Second Language) class. The 20 participants in the class were from diverse cultural and language backgrounds and were learning English in preparation to enter a course to become a Health Services Assistant.
The facilitators used interactive games to gauge the level of English language proficiency and health literacy in the group, then engaged in role-plays to help participants understand how language is used within the Australian healthcare system. These role-plays included scenarios such as:
- A conversation between a doctor and a patient about a headache
- A doctor giving instructions to a health services assistant
- A conversation between a doctor and a nurse about a nursing home resident who required emergency care
At the end of each role play, the facilitators provided information on how to access the type of services needed in the scenario, empowering participants with confidence to access health services and also to advocate for themselves and their communities. Participants also explored the meanings of the various words used in the role play.
Participants asked many questions including:
- How do I get ambulance cover?
- What questions will they ask me if I call 000?
- How do I know whether or not to call an ambulance?
- Does Nurse-on-Call have a translation service?
- What if I need an ambulance but don’t have a Medicare card?
- What if I need to go to hospital but don’t have a Medicare card?
- What does [word] mean? (Many medical words were explained)
- What is paracetamol?
- What is the difference between Panadol and Nurofen?
- What is a normal temperature?
- How high does a temperature have to be to be called a fever?
- What is a healthy heart rate?
The session finished with a role play capturing a conversation between friends about whether or not to attend a party when one of them had COVID-19 symptoms. The participants engaged with the key points about identifying symptoms, undertaking a rapid antigen test (RAT), and isolating until symptoms resolve. It was also a useful opportunity to encourage the participants to have a flu vaccination as soon as it is available. The teacher informed the participants that they will be able to access free flu vaccinations at the Swinburne campus.
The EAL teacher was excited about how the session went and will follow up the words learned in future classes. She was also keen to promote similar sessions amongst other staff at Swinburne at this and other campuses.
For The Water Well Project, a key learning was the value of approaching this session with flexibility and creativity to meet a unique need amongst a migrant community whose members are keen to work in the Australian healthcare setting. The diverse backgrounds of the group mean the impact of the session will reach far beyond the classroom to participants’ families and the various represented communities.
Case Study 4 - Navigating the Australian Healthcare System and COVID-19 Vaccines
On 4 April 2022, The Water Well Project facilitated a session with a beginner English language class at Box Hill Institute. The volunteer healthcare professionals provided helpful information to assist the students to navigate the Australian health care system. The class of 18 participants included 13 women and 5 men. Most were Chinese speaking, plus 2 Thai students and one Iranian student.
The students engaged in the session with excellent questions about Medicare, accessing services, concession cards, and filling prescriptions. Questions included:
- Can I go to the pharmacy and have the cost of my medicines covered by insurance?
- Can you please tell us about how Medicare works?
- How do I fill a prescription in Australia?
- Does my age or income make a difference to how much I pay for medicines?
- Can you please talk about specialists, what they are and how to access them?
- Please tell us about dentists.
- When I take my script to a pharmacy do I need to show them my Medicare card?
- When I present my Medicare card can I get the Medicare rebate on these services?
- How do I find a suitable GP who is also close to where I live?
- Are we allowed to change our GP when we wish?
- If you change GPs can your medical records be transferred to another GP of your choice?
- How much will it cost for me to buy dental cover?
Throughout the session, the facilitators provided helpful links to assist students to access health care cards, buy ambulance cover, find a local GP, and access other services. They also encouraged every student to find a GP to see when they are feeling unwell and also for preventative health services. Several participants expressed appreciation for the comprehensive health care system available in Australia, detailing stories of positive experiences related to surgeries, eye care and care for chronic health conditions.
At the end of the session, the facilitators provided opportunity for students to ask questions about COVID-19. Questions included:
- I feel dry in my throat and heavy in my legs, do I have COVID-19?
- I started feeling COVID-19 symptoms but those symptoms are gone today. Do I need to do a COVID-19 test?
The community representative thanked the facilitators for sharing such helpful information that will assist the students to access healthcare in Australia. The students also expressed their gratitude.
Case Study 5 - Online session with a Women's Support Group
On the 16th of March 2022, The Water Well Project ran a ‘Sun Smart’ health education session for a Women's Support Group. The session was held online via zoom, in a ‘hybrid setting’. A small group including the community representative met at the centre and used one device to attend the zoom meeting, while the two healthcare facilitators and other members of the community group attended the zoom meeting from home via their own devices. The 9 women who attended the session spoke English as a second language and were born overseas in a country other than Australia.
Our volunteer healthcare facilitators commenced the session with some conversation starter questions such as “What did you think when you first felt the Australian sun?”. This immediately generated lots of discussion which led the session to function as a group conversation. The facilitators created a safe and comfortable environment for the women to speak openly, share stories and ask questions.
The majority of participants expressed a lack of knowledge about sun safety. They shared stories about growing up in countries other than Australia and different countries' approaches to sun protection. This seemed to enhance participants' interpersonal relationships, there was animated discussion, as well as laughter. One participant expressed that she had learnt something new about another member of the group. It also seemed to build on the social cohesiveness of the group with participants sharing their experiences of migrating to Australia. There was plenty of sharing of advice and information between members of the community group during the session.
- “Don't forget to sunscreen your ears”
- “Be careful with dark tinted windows. Don’t think that just because a window is dark that the sun and UV radiation can’t get through”
- “I know a man who was a carpenter who is now legally blind from working on metal roofs and from the reflection hitting his face and eyes. So make sure to wear sunglasses.”
Participant-held misconceptions such as ‘the sun is only bad in Australia’ were addressed respectfully by the volunteer healthcare facilitators. They offered clear and concise information on ultraviolet radiation (UV), whilst taking the time to explain how to understand and interpret UV levels. Participants were shown an online resource which shows the current UV rating in Melbourne, equipping them with a practical tool to use for sun protection in the future. Facilitators also advocated for the use of prevention measures and the formulation of positive health habits. One example discussed was the sun smart strategy “Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide” to avoid sun damage and exposure to UV radiation. This information was well received by community members who expressed a commitment to adopting sun safety measures and sharing this information with family and friends.
Participants were encouraged to ask questions, and our volunteer healthcare professionals accurately answered these questions with respect. Participants asked a broad range of questions during the session which included:
- “I feel like the sun has gotten stronger since I was a young girl. Why has the sun changed over the last 50 years?”
- “Will I be more prone to skin cancer since I didn’t wear sunscreen compared to someone who wore sunscreen as a child?”
- “I have a child who is 10 years old and we spend a lot of time in the car during the day. How safe are we in the car from UV radiation?
- “I have seen a lot of people use a thick layer of sunscreen just on their nose or face. Is there a reason why some people don't rub it in?”
- “When I was growing up (in India) there was no education or rules around sunscreen, and I spent a lot of time in the sun. Is there higher UV radiation in different countries or parts of the world?”
- “What is the best solution to avoid getting skin cancer?
At the end of the session, the community members and the community representative thanked the healthcare facilitators, with many expressing that they had learnt something from the session. One community member made the following statement:
- “You don't know what you don't know, but now we know, we will wear sunscreen!”
The session concluded with a discussion about COVID-19 and vaccinations, giving participants an opportunity to hear up-to-date information and have questions answered particularly around how many times children should be vaccinated.