Two ScotGEM medical students, Cassandra Baiano and Ronald MacDonald, have created a web-based app over the past 10 days that allows frontline NHS staff to post their needs (childcare, pet care, grocery shopping, medication pickup etc) over the course of the pandemic and students can offer their help with the tasks based on location.
They’ve called it HealthSHIP – Health Students Helping in Pandemics. It’s free, quick, easy, and scalable across the UK and Ireland with students from 46 universities already participating.
It started when Cassandra tweeted that students in her home region, Tayside, could help with babysitting if the schools closed. When people started commenting this would be helpful, she linked up with Ronald to get moving.
As graduate students with tech backgrounds, Cassandra and Ronald were well positioned to build something fit for purpose. Ronald brings an extensive background of tech development and security, while Cassandra was a serial tech-startupist with experience in project management and partnerships. They thought they could use their expertise to build a community asset that could be helpful for everyone across the country.
How does it work?
Students sign up using their university accounts with their contact info, location, and preferences. Any student with a university account (health student or not) can sign up, but will declare if they have a valid background and criminal disclosure check upon registration. Those with a valid PVG/DBS/Garda will be able to see all tasks including caring ones, while those who do not have one will only be able to see other tasks. Students are required to bring their PVG and photo ID with them when attending a task.
Staff use their professional accounts to create similar profiles with their needs and can post their specific requirements (i.e. I need childcare from 5-7 tomorrow) on our task board. Students can then offer their help. We have also configured it so that staff can help other staff with tasks. Staff is required to show helpers their photo ID and are encouraged to check the helper’s PVG/photo ID.
The platform removes the manual human resource requirement of verifying users and matching students to staff. You can filter listings by postcode, time listed, and date to manage the slew of listings that may come when scaling. Neither students nor staff need to be logged in at all times, just signing up to the platform allows HealthSHIP to ping an email to nearby helpers when a staff member needs help.
This initiative works in tandem with the fantastic regional Facebook groups that are collaborating under the National Health Supporters, a nationwide network of healthcare students who are volunteering their services to provide services for NHS staff members.
There is also a volunteer working with BMA Scotland’s Membership Engagement Coordinator, Kat Bateson, to top up #BMACareBoxes in Ninewells Hospital.
HealthSHIP wants to thank Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow for supporting this initiative and Morton Fraser LLC for their help in quickly bringing HealthSHIP to life; they couldn’t have done it without this support.
Students wanting to help and staff needing support can sign up at www.healthSHIP.org. Students helping through HealthSHIP will receive a certificate from the RCPSG for their contribution. Any questions or comments can be directed to hello@healthSHIP.org.