Youth trauma prevention program goes digital
Established in Canada in 1986, the P.A.R.T.Y. Program operates at more than 100 sites around the world, including twelve in Australia.
It educates students about trauma to help reduce death and injury in alcohol, drug and risk-related crashes and incidents.
Five years after launching at Canberra Hospital, the local program has in response to the COVID-19 pandemic become the first in the world to offer digital delivery.
The trauma expert nurses who run the program at Canberra Health Services (CHS) led the way for P.A.R.T.Y. internationally in adapting to ensure CHS could continue to educate ACT Year 10 students about alcohol and risk-related trauma during the Public Health Emergency.
P.A.R.T.Y. Program Coordinator Nardine Johnson undertook this work knowing all the while that she and her colleagues may be required to return to front line service in the emergency department or intensive care unit should the number of COVID-19 cases in the ACT rise.
“Because of social distancing guidelines and the health service’s visitor restrictions, we found ourselves unable to offer the face-to-face program from late March,” Ms Johnson said.
“Our leadership team agreed that we should work with CHS colleagues, schools and IT staff to assess the viability of moving to digital delivery. This work gave us the confidence to move to choosing an appropriate platform and to design then roll out the online version of the program.”
Nardine says that more than 600 students have participated in the digital version of the program since it came online in April.
“One benefit of online delivery is that entire Year 10 cohorts can now take part, where the face-to-face program, held at Canberra Hospital, was geared for smaller groups of around 30 students.
Another plus is that students seem more comfortable asking questions than they would be in a face-to-face situation.
“These can vary from questions to our injury survivor or ambassador about their recovery and financial or mental health burdens, to talking about our role in trauma from a medical perspective and clinical processes, procedures or equipment,” Ms Johnson said.
Nardine’s counterparts at P.A.R.T.Y. headquarters in Canada have sought her advice as they assist other P.A.R.T.Y. programs around the world to follow in Canberra’s digital footsteps.
“We’re really pleased that teachers and students have engaged so actively during the new online version of the course, and that our experience is allowing us to provide support and guidance to P.A.R.T.Y. Program operators around the world as they consider alternative delivery options,” Nardine said.
Participants hear first-hand from emergency services professionals and people who have experienced trauma. They also watch a video of a trauma code simulation to help them understand the challenges, skills and personal burden of caring for multiple injured patients.
St Mary MacKillop College, Alfred Deakin School and Kingsford Smith School are among the schools to have participated in the online P.A.R.T.Y. Program so far.
The Canberra Hospital-based initiative is supported by the ACT Health Promotion Grants Program.