BY NATASHA SCHAPOVA
Thousands of Australians are supporting healthcare workers as they tackle the COVID-19 pandemic by simply jumping online and logging into Facebook.
Several Facebook groups have been created to help healthcare workers and other front-line workers in small but meaningful ways.
The Facebook group Scrubs Co-op Australia was created by Austin Hospital COVID-19 ward doctor Louise Parry.
She recognised the shortage of scrubs among her staff and created the Facebook group to connect healthcare workers in need of scrubs with dressmakers. It currently has more than 4,200 members.
“The usual sites and companies [where we purchase scrubs] were either charging extremely inflated prices or were estimating six to eight week shipping times,” Dr Parry said.
“A lot of our people making scrubs are professional dressmakers, or have lost other jobs in the lockdown, so being able to give them a little bit of income is the most helpful thing.”
Western Health nurse Rhiann Connor has received scrubs via the Facebook group and said she was surprised by the high quality and low price.
“Some incredibly selfless people are not only donating time, but wearing the cost of materials and postage just to support healthcare workers. I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone involved,” Ms Connor said.
“I’ve found an extra level of comfort when wearing these homemade scrubs as they are usually made from higher quality material [than the usual scrubs supplied].”
Victorian Messages of Thanks and Support to our Healthcare Workers is a Facebook group focusing on thanking these professionals and posting freebies to them.
Alfred Hospital ICU nurse Tayla Austin created the group because she wanted to fashion a “nice and easy space for the community to give their thanks”. It currently has more than 670 members.
“The idea was that if [healthcare workers] were having a bad day or feeling anxious about work they could look at this group and see the support and it would uplift them,” Ms Austin said.
Frankston Hospital nurse Trish Pearson said the group has helped her focus on the positive aspects of her job and to become a better role model for her junior colleagues.
“It feels like there is an increase in respect for what we do everyday, which feels really gratifying,” Ms Pearson said.
“As an Irish nurse in Australia, I know my friends in Ireland and the UK haven’t been as lucky [as nurses have been in Australia].”
Doctors Without Babysitters, a Facebook group created by actor and business strategist Eliza Charley, links doctors in need of babysitters with workers from the creative industries. It currently has more than 2,400 members.
The group has been popular with doctors who do not want to risk sending their little ones to childcare centres or their grandparents’ homes to be looked after, in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
“The arts industry has been really hit hard by [COVID-19] - it was one of the earliest industries to be hit,” Ms Charley said.
“A lot of us work as child entertainers, so in terms of providing babysitting and additional help in the home we’ve actually got quite a bit of experience in that space.
“We all have a role to play during a crisis and I just hope by sharing our story it might inspire people to reflect on their networks and their resources, and think about how they can be part of the solution right now.”