‘Care in Crisis’: Health Action Training (HAT) for Person-centred Care, Communication Skills and Resilience in Nursing during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Matt Jennings; Karl Tizzard-Kleister; Pat Deeny; Kaitlyn Coffey; Meabh Connolly; Codie Hughes; Caoilfhinn Murphy; Darcy Taylor
In 2020, Matt Jennings, Pat Deeny and Karl Tizzard-Kleister, co-founded a company called Health Action Training (HAT) to deliver a unique model of applied drama training to improve communication skills and resilience for nurses and other health care staff.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, nurses in the UK are increasingly “burnt out” and traumatised, working long hours and often deployed to areas outside of their expertise to fill staffing shortages. Health professionals have faced many challenges: being the sole witness to their patients’ suffering and death; having difficulty communicating with patients while wearing PPE masks; voice exhaustion from telephone triage and treatment; and supporting family members who are not allowed to visit loved ones.
Meanwhile, the UK state has not been able to provide sufficient resources to manage the virus effectively. The government continues to pursue a policy of underpaying health workers and privatising the National Health System, granting billions of pounds in contracts to unqualified corporations for resource management and public surveillance.
In this context, HAT has helped struggling nurses in Northern Ireland, using techniques from applied drama and actor training to teaching skills in person-centred practice and “sympathetic presence,” within a conscious framework of “dialogical pedagogy” (Freire) and an “aesthetic of care” (Stuart- Fisher & Thompson, 2020).
Jennings, Matt et al., “‘Care in Crisis’: Health Action Training (HAT) for Person-centred Care, Communication Skills and Resilience in Nursing during the COVID-19 Pandemic”. In Empower Arts, Animate Communities, edited by Benny Lim & Hing-kay Oscar Ho, 122-141. Hong Kong: Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2021. https://doi.org/10.54165/9789887928522/09