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, admin 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 66 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 Ron to get moving.
Ron explained, “Like Cass, I began my career in tech and spent the last decade or more designing and writing various bespoke platforms, not vastly dissimilar to HealthSHIP. As soon as I heard about this idea of Cass’s I was immediately on board and just couldn’t help myself: I started coding literally within seconds of ending our initial call. It’s been great working with Cass; her expertise from previous roles in project management and partnerships in tech startups has made sure we’re delivering a useful and viable product, with the right features, with input from the right stakeholders, in a manageable timeframe.”
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. Only those with valid checks will be able to see caring tasks.
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 the task board. Students can then offer their help. It has also been configured so that staff can help other staff with tasks.
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 or mobile notification 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.
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.