Providing holistic care to ease the mental health impact of COVID-19
13 Apr 2022
As the ongoing outbreak of the COVID-19 virus hammers Hong Kong, citizens have been urged to stay at home and many others have been admitted to hospitals or quarantine facilities. While physical isolation may cause anxiety and emotional issues, experts at HKBU believe that professional support and the creative arts can help those who are struggling to manage stress in a remarkable way.
At the Kai Tak Holding Centre (KTHC), HKBU, as one of the operators, has developed a tailored counselling service, and is harnessing the healing power of music to provide COVID-19 patients with vital support.
Besides offering Chinese medicine-based treatment services to elderly patients, the University has also provided the resident elders with an emotional support and counselling service. This grew out of an awareness that people may experience stress, anxiety, and a sense of powerlessness or pessimism when they are sick or feel disconnected from family and friends, according to Professor Shirley Hung, Director of the Social Work Practice and Mental Health Centre (the Centre) in the Department of Social Work.
As part of a holistic care approach that addresses both physical and psychosocial care, the Emotional Support Service team in the Centre provides mental health assessments and a counselling service in the KTHC. The Centre has also arranged for trained volunteers, including graduates and students of the Department of Social Work, to make regular phone calls to the patients who need emotional support or counselling services during their stay in the KTHC. By making mental health care accessible to the senior patients residing in the KTHC, the University is providing timely and necessary support to those in need.
Music broadcasts are also providing the patients and the healthcare staff in the KTHC with arts-based support. Classical and softer music has been known to have a calming effect, making it a useful tool for relieving stress and improving sleep quality. To help alleviate the patients' anxiety and stress, HKBU's Department of Music has put together a series of playlists titled "Sonic Balm", and they include a number of carefully selected classical pieces. The playlists are broadcast through the sound system to some of the beds in the KTHC, creating a soothing and relaxing atmosphere.
The pandemic has highlighted the impact of physical isolation on our mental health. By combining our effective Chinese medicine-based treatment services with the healing power of the arts and counselling support, HKBU has not only taken care of the medical and pharmaceutical needs of the elderly COVID-19 patients, but it is also looking after their mental and emotional wellbeing.