‘Project ARES’ launched to help COVID-19 front line responders

A new short film, entitled ‘NHS Thank You’ that features a number of veterans and celebrities, is helping the University of Liverpool launch a new online resource that provides free support and materials for COVID-19 front line responders to help them with the unique psychological challenges they face.

The video, written and directed by Phil Spencer and produced by the Soldiers’ Arts Academy and Amanda Faber, was released online as part of the publicity campaign for ‘Project ARES (Adaptive Resilience for Emergency Services)’.

The University’s Psychological Resource Network (PRN), led by Professor Laurence Alison, have launched the unique resource to provide psychological support and resources where it is most needed during and following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Psychological resilience

The PRN brings together professional, clinical and academic expertise from across the University as well as from a range of international operational experts with extensive experience of dealing with critical incidents to mobilise resources and enhance the provision of existing services currently supporting a range of users. These services are likely to come under increasing pressure as they face difficult decisions, a dynamic and high stakes environment and under some unprecedented circumstances.

The primary aim of the PRN is to improve the effectiveness of our response to COVID-19 by increasing the short-term psychological resilience and protecting the long-term mental wellbeing of individuals, teams, and society at large. The objective is to help individuals prepare for, adapt to and then recover from this critical incident.

Project ARES has been voluntarily developed and assisted by a group of psychologists and experienced practitioners that have studied and worked in critical incidents (terrorism, earthquakes, war zones etc.)

Materials and resources

The dedicated materials and resources available include; access to counselling and counsellors, a series of bite size (7-10 minute) online lectures on stress, adaptation, coping and decision making under pressure, video interviews with experienced members of law enforcement, military, security services and emergency responders providing specific guidance and advice.

There is also ‘The Ground Truth’ debriefing tool which takes 20 -30 minutes and which can capture learning, increase team cohesion and feed information back up the food chain. This has been developed by the academic team alongside very experienced military personnel who have recently returned from war zones after very long and repeated deployments. This tool can be made available on request

Prepare, adapt and cope

Professor Laurence Alison, said: “These resources are designed to help frontline staff prepare in advance for, adapt during and cope in the aftermath of this critical incident. All of the resources being made available are based on an extensive detailed knowledge of our research in responding to critical incidents and put into bite size chunks. My 30 years of research with military, security services law enforcement and emergency responders is based on field-based analysis and not simply studies in the lab.

“This project has grown out of the initial, urgent request to provide extra training in effective and positive responses to this pandemic and for our 5th Year medical students and 3rd Year nursing students who have volunteered to deliver frontline clinical services and who I know will rise to the challenge. We wanted to provide additional psychological support to these students and to the clinical staff currently working in the NHS. In coordinating these activities, it became clear that there are wider group of users who may benefit from the resources, training and expertise which exists across the University. And we have also had requests from others responding in other countries.

“Many of the resources available have been designed to help with decision-making, team cohesion, stress, responding to stress, leadership and a number of other relevant topics, as such, they are useful for not just NHS clinical staff but also any emergency responders dealing with this unprecedented incident. As a country, everyone in the UK – young and old – is grateful for what practitioners are doing at the front line. This is neatly summarised in our ‘Project ARES Thank you film’.

“As the project progresses more resources will be developed that will be more relevant and beneficial to other groups dealing with this pandemic and the wider public.”

The video, which was released online, features a number of people including; Laura Wright, Frieda Hughes, Jeff Dodds, Adelle Leonce, Shvorne Marks, Nya-Rae Marks, Jason Fox, Lizzie Mounter, Tom Leigh, Ollie Ollerton, Tip Cullin, Daisy Boyden, Tracy Ann Oberman, Colin Thackery, Brian Wood, Michael Coates, Lily Howkins, Fay Ripley, Daniel Lapaine, Olivia Spencer, Cassidy Little, Daisy May, Dean Helliwell, Imogen Stubbs, Stephan Uppal, David Solomon, Myleene Klass, Natalie Lowe, Margaret Parsons and James Blunt.

Find out more and get support at: www.liverpool.ac.uk/project-ARES