One of the great challenges in helping the public to better understand the COVID-19 pandemic and how to engage with health-promoting behaviours, is how to effectively visually represent an unseen airborne virus, and to convey complex and interrelated factors concerning risk, rates of infection and vaccination. Various attempts have been made to do this. A nobbly green microorganism has emerged as an emoji to represent the virus online, while various images of noses and mouths covered in face masks applied correctly and incorrectly and photos of individuals being vaccinated are some of the most common images associated with COVID-19. Graphical representations of viral infection and vaccination rates at different times, in different locations and across varying demographic groups have attempted to convey important information like transmission and mortality rates, with increases and decreases used to highlight losses and gains in our ongoing fight against the pandemic across the globe. This has resulted in an overwhelming array of information about the pandemic available to a global audience.
Despite the many attempts to educate the public and to raise awareness of COVID-19, rates of disinformation and denial, as well as conspiracy theories regarding the pandemic, its origins, and the vaccination regime, remain significant issues. This underlines the importance of the Visualizing the Virus project. Pandemics are complex and dynamic events, impacting on many different communities across the globe. The need for interdisciplinary collaboration is key to inform and communicate to these different audiences effectively.
Amongst the groups hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic are those who require assisted living, particularly those in care homes such as older people with dementia and people with learning disabilities. These populations are often invisible to the wider public and include individuals who may be considered vulnerable and at risk of exploitation and abuse. Such abuses have been highlighted during the pandemic, e.g. the inappropriate use of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders.
The project Human Rights in Care Homes, led by Professor Wayne Martin at the University of Essex, United Kingdom (UK), investigated the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on care home residents in England and Wales. The project aimed to improve the protection of human rights of those in care settings.
In this Pandemic and Beyond podcast, Wayne Martin and Angela Rhodes, Deputy General Manager at Woodleigh House Care Home in England, discuss the project and how it has empowered staff and residents during the pandemic.
Human Rights in Care Homes is one of 77 pandemic-responsive projects funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK. The Pandemic and Beyond, based at the University of Exeter, UK, aims to coordinate and amplify the impact of the arts and humanities during the pandemic and afterwards.
The Pandemic and Beyond Team are: Pascale Aebischer, Sarah Hartley, Des Fitzgerald, Rachael Nicholas, Benedict Morrison, Garth Davies, Karen Gray and Victoria Tischler. To get updates on the project, find out more about the latest Arts and Humanities COVID-19 research, and to access future episodes of this series, you can find everything you need on their website.
A transcript of the podcast can be found here.