Advanced Life Support Training for Frontline Healthcare Workers develops from the Betty McGrath Grant

Wednesday 17 March 2021

A pandemic world has changed the landscape for frontline healthcare workers. Dealing with infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, requires both effective critical care procedures and prevention strategies for in-hospital transmission. Critical care patients, reliant on advanced life support (ALS) majorly increases the risk of transferring these diseases to doctors and nurses.

Education Coordinator Leah McIntosh at Mater Education wants to explore the impact ‘pandemic preparedness’ coupled with current infection protocols within ALS.

“This project will draw on simulations based on online training to determine the effectiveness of healthcare worker training for advanced life support, during a pandemic, and the impact it has on team performance and the training offered for pandemic preparedness,” said Ms McIntosh.

“Focussing on the protection of the workforce, [the project] is about making sure that the most effective training methods are used to enhance and optimise team function and performance during times of complexity.” 

During a pandemic the healthcare workforce becomes a really vulnerable asset and this project intends to create an effective training program to ensure teams are highly trained and the risk of transmission of infectious diseases during high risk procedures such as ALS is minimised.

“Understanding how teams function and perform under complex circumstances such as ALS in a pandemic helps to inform how we can develop effective team training to ensure we are keeping our workforce safe, while providing care during a pandemic,” said Ms McIntosh.

With research constantly growing in the field of infectious disease, such as COVID-19, the ways in which healthcare providers manage and practice ALS needs to evolve now in anticipation of future needs of our community.

The ALS program at the site of this study, Mater Education, is a simulation-based education program to develop resuscitation skills within the hospital environment. With COVID-19, it is known that the risk of transmission to healthcare workers increases when ALS interventions occur.

At the time at COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, Mater Education implemented a tailored training program, geared to face this unprecedented situation. Combining online and face-to-face training methods, clinical staff were able to not only refresh their skills in personal protective equipment (PPE), hand hygiene and infection control procedures but also how this this would affect them personally.

“Currently, the information available on how to create new protocols within routine clinical practices of ALS is limited. It is critical now for effective training for not only frontline, but all healthcare workers to ensure critical care is delivered safely and appropriately.”

“Two key challenges remain—understanding effective ways to incorporate new infection control protocols and developing online learning resources to upskill non-critical care workers to assist critical care delivery. This project will allow for this to happen,” said Ms McIntosh.

A joint initiative of Mater Health, Mater Research and Mater Foundation, The Betty McGrath Grant enables practising clinicians or other health professionals to pursue their research activity whilst allowing their departments to continue quality of care to their patients.

Want to read more success stories like Leah’s? Please visit Mater Research website and find out more.