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Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Long-Term Care Sector: Interview with Dr. Farinaz Havaei
Season 2, Episode 3
Dr. Naz (Farinaz) Havaei shares some of the findings that emerged from a series of dialogues with key stakeholders about new policies that were implemented during the pandemic. She also shares recommendations for improving these policies to help build resilience in the sector and improve quality of life and conditions for long-term care residents, families, and health care workers.
In this episode, Dr. Naz (Farinaz) Havaei discusses her research in the long-term care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. She shares some of the findings that emerged from a series of dialogues with key stakeholders about new policies that were implemented during the pandemic. She also shares recommendations for improving these policies to help build resilience in the sector and improve quality of life and conditions for long-term care residents, families, and health care workers.
Topics discussed in this episode include:
- How and why Naz pivoted her research focus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Some unintended consequences of new policies implemented in the long-term care sector during the pandemic, how they revealed existing systemic issues, and recommendations for addressing these issues.
- Who these recommendations are for, what the next steps are, and why this work will remain relevant long after the COVID-19 pandemic.
- And the incredible resilience and power of nurses!
Dr. Havaei is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of British Columbia (UBC). UBC is situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam First Nation.
This episode was produced by Hikma Strategies. It includes original music composed by Matthew Tomkinson, the 2022 Hikma Artist in Residence.
Recording Date: May 5, 2022
00;00;01;03 - 00;00;35;15
Welcome back to the Hikma Collective podcast. I'm Erica Machulak and in this mini season we’re sharing collaborations with amazing public scholars. In this episode, you will hear Dr. Farinaz Havaei talk about her work with many partners and collaborators across the long term care sector to develop pandemic resilience strategies. Hope you enjoy.
00;00;40;11 - 00;01;28;16
Hi there. I'm Erica Machulak and you are listening to a conversation with Dr. Farinaz Havaei of the University of British Columbia School of Nursing. In this conversation, Naz talks about her work in the long-term care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic with partners, collaborators and actors across British Columbia. She talks about how some unintended consequences of pandemic policies have revealed systemic issues in long-term care, and she offers recommendations for addressing these issues. Naz also talks about why this work will remain important long after the pandemic for building resilience in the health care sector and improving quality of life and conditions for long term care residents, families and health care workers. Thanks for listening.
Hey, Naz. It's great to have you here. Would you please introduce yourself for our listeners?
00;01;29;06 - 00;02;05;05
Sure. My name is Farinaz Havaei. I am an assistant professor at UBC School of Nursing and a health services researcher. My work focuses on studying healthy work environments and studying workplace factors that enable nurses and health, health, human resources, health care providers to deliver quality and safe patient care across the health care health care spectrum. long-term care. Acute care. Community care sector.
00;02;05;27 - 00;02;11;04
Yeah. So will you tell us a little bit more about how you became interested in this work?
00;02;11;23 - 00;04;09;11
Absolutely. So when COVID-19 happened, the long-term care sector, as you know very well, became the epicenter of COVID-19. And we know that over 80% of COVID related mortalities in Canada essentially happened in the long-term care sector. So to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19, a series of policies and procedures were introduced in the sector to essentially ensure the health and safety of residents, staff, and family members. And so in 2020, after the pandemic, our team at UBC School of Nursing was fortunate enough to receive a research grant from Michael Smith Health Research B.C., to essentially evaluate whether or not these pandemic management policies and procedures had any unintended consequences for long-term care homes, their staff, residents and also their families. And so this was a study that was conducted in one long-term care home in Vancouver. It was a case study. And so the case study resulted in very many interesting findings. But the gap that we had was that we really did not know if our findings from the case study would be applicable to other care homes in the province. And so what we did was that we successfully received another grant from MSHR BC to work with long-term care home stakeholders, and that those include leaders, operators, residents, staff, families to essentially work together and collaboratively develop recommendations in relation to best pandemic management policies and practices for long-term care homes in the province.
00;04;11;17 - 00;04;21;02
And so just to get a really zoomed out lens of the context. Naz, why was the mortality rate so much higher in long-term care during the COVID-19 pandemic?
00;04;21;22 - 00;05;13;08
Absolutely, I personally think it was higher due to a variety of reasons. One of them being that, you know, we are dealing with a vulnerable population, the older adult population, you know, they have a greater risk of not being able to fight the virus and survive the virus. On top of that, I personally think that there are some more longstanding systemic challenges in the sector that may have played a role in how COVID-19 essentially impacted residents’ health and safety, the rate of mortality and also the same notion for staff members, in terms of contracting COVID and at times even mortality from COVID-19.
00;05;14;08 - 00;05;27;21
Interesting, very interesting. So, in terms of your personal work and what drew you to this project, have you always been interested in long-term care? Has that always been an area of focus for you?
00;05;28;16 - 00;06;14;03
This is a really good question, Erica. I actually started my work in terms of, you know, studying healthy work environments and studying those factors that enable healthcare providers, particularly nurses, to deliver quality and safe patient care in the acute care sector. But when the COVID-19 pandemic happened, and because of what, you know, happened to residents in terms of mortality, in terms of, you know, contracting COVID-19. In this sector, I just felt like there was a need to shift my focus from acute care to the long-term care sector. And that is when we actually started bringing in some of our understanding and expertise from the acute care sector, to the long-term care sector.
00;06;15;01 - 00;06;28;09
And for you, in terms of making that shift, given your own perspective as a researcher and the network that you had: what were some of the most significant adjustments that you had to make to your work to change focus?
00;06;29;05 - 00;07;08;05
So it really meant that I needed to listen, I really needed to listen to the perspectives and experiences of those in long-term care, I needed to have really open ears and an open heart to see what their unique experiences are, their unique perspectives, their unique challenges. And so, I've really been trying to invite a variety of representatives and groups from the long-term care sector to engage in my program of research.
00;07;09;10 - 00;07;19;07
Very interesting. And so can you walk us through sort of the journey of this project from the beginning of the pandemic to now May 2022?
00;07;20;12 - 00;08;47;12
So back in 2020, we started a study in one long-term care home to essentially evaluate the impact of pandemic management policies and procedures on residents, their families, as well as staff just because we were interested to see if these pandemic management policies and practices had any unintended consequences for providers and users of long-term care homes. And so, we did have very many interesting findings in terms of how some of these pandemic management policies and practices sort of had some unintended consequences, just because of either their nature or because of how they were implemented in the sector. They had some unintended consequences for residents, staff and families. And so we wanted to work with our stakeholders, long-term care experts, families, residents, operators, staff to determine how those pandemic management policies and practices could be improved to more effectively manage and deal with the pandemic. You know, the current pandemic, and also future pandemics and crisis in long-term care homes in the province.
00;08;48;10 - 00;08;57;16
So how did you go about studying this? How did how did you go about moving this project forward? What was the first step?
00;08;58;16 - 00;11;41;19
Very good question. So one of the first things that we did in this project was essentially establishing an advisory group of long-term-care experts, including representatives from the BC Ministry of Health, including representatives from other long-term care organizations, like BC Care Providers Association, as well as LTC, or long-term-care leaders, managers, providers, residents, and even their families. We also had researchers whose expertise was long-term care, and seniors here sort of involved and included in our advisory group. So we had a relatively large advisory group, I would say probably about 10 or 15 individuals working very closely and meeting regularly to essentially inform the direction of this research. And so in addition to this advisory group, the project also had three components. We started with a survey of long-term-care operators to essentially get a sense of, you know, to what extent pandemic management policies and practices were implemented – so how frequently – and also what might have been their impact on the health and safety of staff, residents, and their families. And so we essentially use the results of the survey then to have discussion and dialogue with long-term-care stakeholders through a series of five discussion forums – five virtual discussion forums with each of the five regional health authorities in BC. So we did have a discussion forum with Vancouver Coastal Health, we did have a discussion forum with Fraser health, and so on and so forth. And then finally, we used those discussions to develop a series of recommendations for best pandemic management, and then brought together all of these long-term-care experts from all of the health authorities, as well as our advisory group to reach consensus around these recommendations that, you know, we're going to put forth. So the team essentially worked together to sort of review those recommendations and at times also to make revisions and make suggestions in terms of, you know, how certain recommendations should be worded.
00;11;43;02 - 00;11;49;24
Hmm. And what what were the conversations like? What were some of the things that you learned through these dialogues?
00;11;50;12 - 00;13;41;29
Absolutely. So we essentially how we started, the conversation was, you know, we introduced the project and sort of shared some of our key findings from an earlier component of the project, which was our operator survey, which essentially spoke to, you know: this is how frequently pandemic management policies and practices were implemented, and this is their impact on residents on the health and safety of residents, families, as well as staff. And so it was really interesting to essentially see that our forum participants essentially also echoed a lot of the same and similar experiences as to our, you know, long-term-care operators, based on the survey. And then, when we actually shared the results of the survey, then we opened it up for discussion and conversation and dialogue with the participants in terms of what might be some of the changes that we would like to see in some of these pandemic management policies and practices or, how do we go – if there are any issues in certain pandemic management policies and practices – how do we go about resolving them? If we had a chance to start responding to this pandemic all over again? How would we do it? What do things look like in terms of pandemic management policies and practices? And what are some of the changes that you would like to see as long-term-care stakeholders? And so we used some of those conversations and discussions then to actually turn them into recommendations for better management in long-term care?
00;13;42;13 - 00;13;46;15
And what are some of the recommendations that you think are the most critical?
00;13;47;13 - 00;15;34;20
So, I mean, we have a series of recommendations. They are a relatively long list of recommendations, but I could probably just give you an example. So, as you might know, the strict visitation policy is one of the pandemic management policies or strategies that was actually a really significant source of concern and frustration for long-term care, particularly long-term-care residents and families. And so the families and residents were particularly concerned about the fact that the policy was developed, without or with limited engagement with, you know, families and residents and as a result, made a recommendation for more active involvement of residents and families through their respective councils in the policy development, policy implementation, and evaluation in their perspective, if they were, or if they had their voice represented at the policymaking table, some of the issues that happened as a result of the policy would not have happened to the same extent. So the recommendation that we have put forth as a result of some of these discussions, again, is to provide opportunities for engaging families and residents in policymaking through working with their respective councils.
00;15;35;29 - 00;15;45;27
Interesting. So is there a sense in which the stressors of the pandemic have opened up these opportunities to build better human infrastructure moving forward?
00;15;46;18 - 00;16;25;01
Absolutely. I think it it certainly took a pandemic for us as a country, and also provincially, in British Columbia, to be paying attention to some of those shortcomings, long standing shortcomings in the long-term care sector, some of the issues and challenges that we've been dealing with in this sector for a very long time. I think the pandemic, certainly the silver lining was that it revealed some of these issues, and it sort of created a sense of urgency, in terms of responding to some of these challenges and shortcomings.
00;16;25;20 - 00;16;34;11
Urgency in what sense? I mean, of course, the sense of immediate risk, but do you think that this issue has gotten more attention because of the pandemic?
00;16;34;25 - 00;17;06;00
I certainly think so. I mean, we've all heard of the stories that came out of long-term care homes in Ontario. So some of the issues in terms of some of the wrongdoings in terms of resident care delivery, and you know, the government sort of calling for investigations – so on and so forth. I don't think that without the pandemic we would have taken accountability for this sector, at least to the same extent.
00;17;08;06 - 00;17;38;27
So long-term care is itself, it sounds like, quite a complicated ecosystem embedded within the broader healthcare sector, which is also very, very complicated. When you think, in the way that you have been trying to map out the pandemic strategies that were put in place across all of these different facilities: how have you broken those strategies down? Do you have categories? Do you have themes? How have you organized the information?
00;17;39;20 - 00;18;50;08
Really, really good question. So we actually put our pandemic management policies and procedures into seven themes and categories. And those include screening, visitation, staffing, infection prevention and control, communication, physical layout, leadership and organizational support. And how we got to these seven themes is: we use a couple of approaches. The first one being that we actually created a list of pandemic management policies and procedures, based on the findings of our earlier case study. And also then we had our advisory group, particularly our stakeholders from BC Ministry of Health and BC Care Providers Association, who have that really deep understanding of pandemic management policies and practices review, and modify that list based on their expertise and experience. So that is essentially how we arrived to the seven themes of pandemic management policies.
00;18;52;03 - 00;18;59;05
And within those seven themes, were there ones that were particularly hot button themes in these dialogues?
00;18;59;26 - 00;19;45;16
Oh, absolutely. And I would say those were probably the ones that were really, really – they essentially triggered really hot conversation, visitation, and staffing visitation for the visitation policy for residents and families, the staffing policy certainly for operators, providers, and also for residents and families, because they are the ones at the receiving end of care and services from staff members who are really overburdened and exhausted and working under really, really sub-optimal working conditions.
00;19;46;27 - 00;19;51;22
And so tell us more about the single-site order, what was the single-site order?
00;19;52;16 - 00;20;16;16
So the single-site employment policy was a policy that was introduced into the long-term care sector – again, to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19. And the policy essentially prevented long-term care workers, particularly nurses and care aids from working in more than one long-term care home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
00;20;16;29 - 00;20;19;02
And why was that implemented exactly?
00;20;19;22 - 00;20;52;12
The reasoning makes a lot of sense. It was implemented, because it was a way to essentially, again, prevent the spread of COVID-19 through staff members, you know, going from one care home to another care home, you know. The risk of spreading it and taking the virus to multiple sites is essentially increased. So the solution was essentially to implement this policy that would then say: care home workers would have to stay and work in one care home during the pandemic and, in that way, slow the spread.
00;20;53;13 - 00;20;59;15
And was the single site order implemented across all healthcare facilities or only in certain ones?
00;21;00;09 - 00;22;09;10
So the single-site policy essentially was limited to long-term care homes. And what was actually really interesting – and something that we learned through our discussion forum dialogues – was that (or actually, it was a limitation that came out of limitation within the policy that came out from our conversations) and that was that the policy applied only to long-term care homes, and not to other other healthcare organizations like acute care settings, like hospitals. Let me give you an example. So, as a long-term care worker, I would not be able to concurrently work at more than one care home. But I could concurrently work in my long place of employment in long-term care, as well as an acute care setting, even a COVID-positive unit. Right? So this was essentially a limitation of the policy that was identified by our forum participants.
00;22;10;04 - 00;22;15;01
Hmm. And why was it implemented that way? Do we know?
00;22;15;20 - 00;22;37;22
I honestly don't know what the reasoning behind that was. But I suspect, highly suspect, that some of the systemic challenges that we're dealing with – and that we've been actually dealing with for decades in the sector – probably influenced how the policy was designed.
00;22;38;22 - 00;22;39;08
What do you mean?
00;22;39;28 - 00;23;28;11
So by systemic challenges, I essentially mean staffing shortages. The long-term care sector has been dealing with this whole issue of staffing shortages, particularly nursing shortages. And as a result of that, I personally think if the policy were to be inclusive of acute care sites, that long-term care homes would actually lose a lot of their staff to the extent that they could essentially not afford continuing to deliver resident care. And so the decision was then made to just limit the policy to long-term care homes and not other healthcare organizations or sectors I guess.
00;23;29;18 - 00;23;37;09
Interesting, huh. And could you say more about that? What are some of the specific staffing challenges in long-term care?
00;23;38;07 - 00;24;50;02
So I mean, some of the challenges that I could essentially speak to, I mean, just very simply in terms of ratios in long-term care. Typically, the ratios that you see in terms of registered nurse-resident ratios – it's sometimes one-to-twenty, one-to-thirty, one-to-forty. So this is nothing strange for the long-term care sector, as opposed to the acute care sector where you see ratios like one-to-four, one-to-five RNs per patient. So in addition to that, I think what one of the other issues or challenges might be is that a lot of nursing – new nurses, newly graduated nurses actually do not select long-term care homes as their place of employment. And the reason being is that one of their goals is to be developing and building their clinical competencies and skills, and they believe that long-term care homes may not provide some of the same opportunities in terms of skill building as acute care settings.
00;24;50;23 - 00;24;53;24
Hmm. What kinds of skills are you referring to?
00;24;54;18 - 00;25;41;17
So some of those perhaps a bit more hardcore, clinical nursing skills that you see in acute care settings: blood transfusion, caring for a patient with tracheotomy, maintaining an IV, so things like that. In long-term care homes, because some of these residents this is essentially their home, this is where they live, most of the nursing care is essentially focused on activities of daily living, medication administration – so on and so forth. So you don't really see some of those more hardcore clinical nursing skills.
00;25;42;28 - 00;25;51;03
And so, what were some of the – to bring all of this back to the dialogues – what were some of the recommendations around staffing that came out of them?
00;25;51;21 - 00;27;59;15
So one of the recommendations that we made around the staffing was essentially care homes, developing a contingency staffing plan that ensures quality and safe resident care delivery during potential crises, such as outbreaks, because we essentially found that the COVID-19 pandemic created a lot of issues in terms of staffing, and it actually exacerbated some of the staffing shortages, you know, staff, because of the single site policy, for example, a lot of care homes, lost some of their staff. And on top of that families and visitors were prohibited from coming to care homes. And as a result of that staff were sort of faced with increasing demands and responsibilities. They were now the ones that had to also care for the psychosocial aspects of resident needs, spending time with them, comforting them, talking with them, just just making sure that they're not isolated and lonely. On top of that, you know, there are the increasing infection prevention and control practices, staff having to don on and off PPE. And so all of that together, you know, increasing needs, but also staffing, shortages, staff leaving because of the single site or staff leaving, because, you know, they need to be taking time away from work because they’re sick with COVID or they have been exposed to the virus. And so, all of these factors essentially show that care homes must have a contingency staffing plan, that essentially tells them how to staff, how to ensure adequate levels and appropriate types of staff are available to continue to deliver resident centered care during potential crises and outbreaks.
00;28;00;10 - 00;28;19;15
All right. So, in terms of all of those staffing recommendations, how do you see the pandemic changing the profession of nursing moving forward? Do you think the pandemic has surfaced any new trends or changed the direction of the profession in different ways?
00;28;19;25 - 00;29;42;23
Really good question. I personally think that, honestly, again, the silver lining in the pandemic for the nursing profession was that it just simply showed the public the power of nursing. So when the pandemic happened, all of us were really scared. We were fearful of contracting the virus, most of us stayed home, we protected our family members, we really limited our social circle, we did not go to work, most of us, you know, continued our work virtually. But the nursing professionals did not have some of the same opportunities. They were actually the ones at the forefront of this fight. And so, I think, as we all saw during some of the earlier waves of the pandemic, we call them our heroes, nurses are heroes. And I think essentially the pandemic really helped speak to some of the, I guess, significance and importance of the profession. And I personally think that it provided the profession with a greater level of symbolic power.
00;29;43;20 - 00;29;48;19
And what do you hope that symbolic power has the power to do?
00;29;49;25 - 00;30;49;22
I certainly hope that healthcare leaders and decision makers actively seek the input and the expertise of nurses in terms of policymaking and decision making. Again, a lot of these policies that were implemented in the long-term care sector had to be enacted by nursing providers on the front line. So I think it will be really important to have their expertise included and reflected in the policies that are coming out during crisis. Because again, these nurses are going to be the ones at the forefront of the fight. So we need to be drawing upon their expertise to develop policies that are going to be reasonable, and that are going to make sense to nurses, because, again, they are the ones that are going to be enacting some of these policies.
00;30;50;22 - 00;31;01;23
Mm-hmm. And the pandemic was a chaotic time for everyone, and it sounds like, particularly in long-term care. What were some of the decisions that nurses were making on a daily basis?
00;31;02;20 - 00;33;00;29
So. The decisions that nurses were making on a daily basis. This is an interesting question. I think the decisions that they were making, just, I guess, in terms of the pandemic management policies, how to implement them, how to how the implementation of certain policies would negatively impact residents, their families, and also the nurses themselves. And how would they resolve some of those, you know, negative impacts and outcomes? So I can give you an example. When the strict visitation policy was implemented in long-term care, as I said earlier, again, a lot of family members and visitors could not really come in to spend time with their loved one, to see them, to comfort them, to talk with them, to socialize with them. And so it's sort of a negative outcome of that. And one unintentional impact of that was that we were seeing an increasing level of resident isolation and loneliness. So, stories were coming out of the pandemic from nurses in the long-term care sector that were saying essentially nurses were coming to the facility on their own time without any compensation to spend time with these residents, to socialize with them, to read them a book, to paint their nails. So just any little thing they could do to just make them feel better because they were not able to see their families or have a connection with them, especially during those earlier days. So, I mean, I think that is very valuable and speaks to just how quickly nurses are able to adapt and respond to crises and pandemics and outbreaks onward.
00;33;03;01 - 00;33;11;25
If we're talking about a shortage of nurses in long-term care, what would motivate more nurses to choose that as their career path?
00;33;13;02 - 00;34;55;13
That's a really good question. And I think there are certain things that we could do, like as researchers, policymakers, decision makers, to essentially encourage more nurses to choose long-term care as their place of employment. So one of those things I think would be improving working conditions in the long-term care sector, ensuring that there are adequate numbers of staff and appropriate types of staff to effectively meet the day-to-day care needs of long-term care residents. Because if I as a registered nurse, as a newly graduated registered nurse, if I know that if I go for a, you know, just in terms of my place of employment, if my first place of employment is long-term care, and if I'm expected to provide care and lead care activities for 40 or more residents, I think that is a pretty intimidating responsibility, particularly for a new group. So I would say, you know, just providing mentorship opportunities, supporting newly graduated nurses maybe for a few months or even a year so that they essentially get settled into their positions, creating body shift opportunities. These are some of the examples of some of the things that could be done to essentially promote nurses and particularly registered nurses to choose long-term care as their place of employment.
00;34;56;20 - 00;35;28;14
Those are great insights, Naz. So, I want to get to the heart of one thing that I think many of your listeners may be wondering. A lot of the people listening to this podcast may be thinking or at least hoping that the pandemic is over, or this version of the pandemic where we're all in crisis has passed. So from that perspective, why is this work still relevant?
00;35;29;11 - 00;38;34;24
That's a really good question. I think one of the important reasons as to why this work is important is because it essentially provides some direction and guidance for the potential redesign of pandemic management policies and practices during the current pandemic, but also direction and guidance in relation to how future pandemics or crises could be effectively handled in the sector. Another really important reason about these recommendations and this work is that they essentially point to the importance of addressing some of those systemic issues in the sector. So if we are essentially speaking to like challenges, particular challenges specific to the pandemic, the recommendations essentially realize that these recommendations are not going to be effective unless they are effectively implemented. And their effective implementation is going to require addressing challenges and systemic issues in the sector. Let me give you an example. So, for example, in relation to the single site employment order, yes, this policy was developed and maybe it would have been. It's certainly effective in relation to slowing down the spread of COVID, but there wasn't any consideration given to how it would impact care homes in relation to adequate levels and appropriate types of staff. Because as you would imagine, and because of the policy definition prohibiting staff to one site, it essentially resulted in care homes losing some of their staff. And these care homes are already struggling with staffing shortages pre-pandemic. So the implementation of the policy certainly exacerbated some of those staffing shortages. So we have made within our recommendations, we have sort of made a broader recommendation that speaks to care homes, having to have a contingency staffing plan and maybe to address staffing shortages in long-term care homes and also to ensure equity and fairness. Maybe this policy needs to be modified such that staff with the required relevant vaccines are actually allowed to work in more than one outbreak free long-term care home and also non long-term care home sites like acute care and hospital settings. So we have in our recommendations, we have done our best to essentially consider the unique context of long-term care homes and some of the challenges that they have been dealing with for a very long time.
00;38;35;26 - 00;38;42;28
Hmm. Naz, what were some of the findings and recommendations around infection prevention and control?
00;38;44;02 - 00;40;29;27
So one of the most important issues or I guess findings in relation to infection prevention and control was the fact that operators and staff were really concerned about the frequency, and at times even the inconsistency, of recommendations communicated to them from different organizations. So for example, communication coming out from the Ministry of Health, from BCCDC saying something and then another communication coming out, I don't know, maybe within a couple of hours with slightly conflicting information in relation to a policy or a procedure. And so based on that finding, our forum participants essentially felt like an appropriate recommendation would be that infection prevention and control recommendations must be clear, must be concise and consistent. And that means that recommendations actually must be communicated to care homes from a single organization in the province. Because that really caused a lot of challenges for care homes, you know, especially during earlier waves of the pandemic, not knowing which is the most appropriate information, what is the policy? And then them having these uncertainties, then creating challenges in relation to how do they respond to staff questions, families questions and also residents questions. So really they felt like having one organization sending out communication in relation to pandemic management policies would really help streamline that information.
00;40;30;18 - 00;40;40;11
Mm-hmm. And it seems like that recommendation is really tied into some of the others that we've been talking about in terms of human resources and communication needs.
00;40;40;20 - 00;40;41;15
00;40;42;04 - 00;41;06;14
So, we've talked about how the context of long-term care is different from many other contexts in the healthcare ecosystem. But even within long-term care, you have these different homes that I imagine create very different experiences for residents. Could you talk about some of the key differences from home to home that might affect the way that residents in long-term care experienced pandemic?
00;41;07;23 - 00;43;51;26
There are certainly differences across care homes in relation to how their building is designed, how old they are, where they are located, how big or how small they are, how many beds they have. So that certainly creates some differences across physical layout. But what was perhaps a bit common across our participants from a variety of care homes was the fact that they recognized that there were certainly challenges and limitations related to physical layout associated with older buildings, things like poor ventilation, poor HVAC systems, having shared rooms because a lot of the care homes actually have buildings that are on the older side. And so that creates challenges in relation to having suboptimal ventilation systems or like rooms that are shared by two or three or four residents. And you know, this is not a very resident centered environment because again, these long-term care homes are supposed to be home to these residents. And can you imagine living in a room with three or four people in the same room and just living there for years after years and after years? And so it really has an impact on residents' quality of life. So we are essentially just realizing that we have to be making a recommendation that is feasible just because of, you know, worker sort of in the context of having finite resources. We have essentially made a recommendation asking the B.C. Ministry of Health to work with the health authorities to develop a plan for updating the infrastructure of long-term care homes, doing an assessment of their ventilation on fact systems just to make sure if they're working okay, if they're functional. And for those homes that have some of those older suboptimal systems to essentially get them replaced. And also in relation to shared rooms, we have essentially sort of put forth a recommendation for the B.C. Ministry of Health to start outlining strategy for minimizing and eventually eliminating the use of shared rooms in long-term care homes. Just because, again, from the perspective of resident quality of life, I think it would be important. I think it would be an important step.
00;43;52;18 - 00;43;56;27
And who are the recommendations for? Who are you calling on?
00;43;57;29 - 00;44;39;09
So, I would say that these recommendations are mainly directed to policy makers and decision makers in long-term care because essentially they are the ones that make important decisions in relation to how resident care delivery is organized in the sector and also in relation to how some of these policies were developed and the implementation process, all of these sort of pandemic management strategies, policies, procedures were sent to care homes, were developed and sent to care homes, from policy makers and decision makers.
00;44;40;01 - 00;44;53;24
And what are the next steps for the project, do you think? You have developed this report and facilitated these dialogs. What do you think is the next step for you and your partners?
00;44;54;09 - 00;45;30;10
So, the next step for us is to essentially distribute very widely the results of the project. So our recommendations with our key stakeholders, the B.C. Ministry of Health, the health authorities that participated in the project, long-term care organizations like B.C. Care Provider Association and even Safe Care B.C., and with even families and residents through their respective councils . So we're going to be sort of distributing these recommendations to as as many stakeholders as possible.
00;45;30;13 - 00;45;40;04
So, in terms of the recommendations that you think are ready for immediate implementation, what are some of the ones that you think are the most important right now?
00;45;41;07 - 00;46;57;29
So, I think in terms of our staffing recommendations, we certainly have some recommendations that are more long-term. There are things that cannot be implemented overnight. They require more long-term, long-term planning and more coordinated efforts. But we also have more concrete recommendations that could be implemented right away immediately. One of those recommendations is essentially implementing a comprehensive and systematic approach to understanding and measuring long-term care resident needs. And there are evidence based tools and approaches out there that do exactly that. And our research team has essentially been very fortunate to receive a signature grant to implement this tool that exactly does that. It operationalizes its resident needs in relation to five acuity characteristics and three dependency characteristics. And then, from there on, uses those numbers and scores to inform staffing decisions. Just as a way to help staff with their workload management.
00;46;58;14 - 00;47;04;09
Hmm, interesting. And do you have a sense so far of how well that's going?
00;47;05;20 - 00;48;03;06
So, not a lot, because we just started the project. But this is a very promising intervention. And the reason being is that we have used it in several acute care settings in the past and we have seen really positive outcomes and positive results. We have used it in B.C. Women's and Children's Hospital, Kelowna Cancer Agency. And right now, we're actually using it in Royal Columbian Hospital in three of their surgical, neuro, and ortho units. And we have also used this tool outside of the province. A few of my colleagues have actually used it in emergency departments, so on and so forth. So it is an evidence based tool. It works. There’s research that backs it up, but it's the first time that it's actually been extended to long-term care.
00;48;03;24 - 00;48;09;10
And what are some of the considerations that you have to make to apply it in long-term care instead of acute care?
00;48;09;24 - 00;49;07;21
So, one of the great things about the tool is that it is adaptable to different contexts and to different patient populations because as you can imagine, the needs of a particular patient population is going to be different and across different specialties. So if you're in labor delivery versus a surgical patient versus an ortho patient versus a cardiac patient versus a long-term care resident, your needs are going to be different. And so the tool essentially provides the opportunity where it actually encourages the care team to adapt it for their patient population, in this case, long-term care residents . So we're going to be working very closely with the long-term care providers to essentially adapt a tool for their unique context and based on the needs of the resident population.
00;49;10;25 - 00;49;17;02
That's really exciting. What is your hope for the tool? What possible impact could it have?
00;49;18;00 - 00;50;13;21
I certainly think that – I certainly hope – that it will provide some, it alleviates some of the issues in terms of workload that the staff have been dealing with in long-term care, that it alleviates some of their stress, that it provides them with opportunities or it supports them to provide a more effective resident care that they have the time and the ability to better meet the needs of the resident population. And there is certainly, I'm very optimistic in that. I mean, there are systematic reviews and systematic reviews on a very high level of evidence are very rigorously done that essentially support that the use of the tool is associated with more positive patient staff and organizational outcomes.
00;50;14;09 - 00;50;37;15
Mm hmm. So, in the way that you talk about all of your work, from the dialogs to the implementation of this tool, you talk a lot about all of the different kinds of people that the work could benefit and also all of the different kinds of people from decision makers to residents and families that you work with to move this work forward. Would you tell us a bit about your approach to knowledge translation?
00;50;37;27 - 00;51;51;00
Absolutely. So, I have a very collaborative approach. The particular approach that I use is integrated knowledge translation in which you work very closely with stakeholders, with partners, with those individuals who are going to be impacted as a result of your work and as a result of the issue at hand. And you work very closely with them, they are really equal partners. Throughout the research process, you bring in their expertise, you invite their input and actually incorporate it into your decisions throughout the research, you know, from formulating a research questions to data collection, recruitment, and believe it or not, even in terms of interpreting the results of what does a particular finding mean in relation to those in the frontline leaders, staff members? How do they go about interpreting a certain finding? So you really have them involved throughout the project as equal partners, as researchers.
00;51;51;24 - 00;51;58;00
So tell us how your approach to knowledge translation played out in these virtual dialogs?
00;51;58;14 - 00;54;31;08
Absolutely. So we started the project by establishing an advisory group of long-term care experts with representatives from the resident group, family member group, operators, leaders, managers, providers, having partners from the Ministry of Health Care, Provider Association, and researcher groups. So we did have a relatively large advisory group whom we worked with very closely throughout the project to inform the direction of the project and in every step of the process sort of consulting with them and obtaining their input. But on top of that we had the discussion forums and the discussion forums again were open to all long-term care members. So anybody affiliated with long- term care, whether they were leaders, nurses, residents, family members, staff members, they were essentially invited to participate in discussion forums with the four health authorities Interior Health, Vancouver Island Health, Fraser Health, and Vancouver Coastal Health Authorities. And so what we did was after we presented the findings of our operators survey, we essentially invited participants to comment and share their experiences and share their perspectives. And they could you know, we've sort of adopted a very flexible approach. They could just unmute themselves and speak to us. They could write their comments in the chat box. And we even stayed, after discussion forums were ended, we actually stayed on for a few minutes extra just in case there were any participants that just wanted to have a private conversation with us. And we also, on top of all of that, we invited participants to reach out if there were any other comments and sort of input that they wanted to share with us, to feel free to do that. And believe it or not, Erika, we actually did have quite a number of our forum participants personally reach out to me to share additional comments and input that they did not recall during the forum. And so they took the time to essentially share that with us through email.
00;54;32;00 - 00;54;37;28
And how did you take all of that input and turn it into these recommendations?
00;54;38;12 - 00;56;22;10
So, this was a very complex process because as you can imagine, we had lots of input from many people from the health authorities. We also had the input of our advisory group. We had the results of the survey. And so we had to bring all of that together to create our recommendations. And so what we did was that during our final discussion forum, we then took the recommendations that we had created based on what we heard during these these discussion forums and the survey and advisory group consultations, we took our recommendations to this final virtual debrief and provided opportunities for long-term care members, our diverse, diverse group of participants. To have a say in terms of these war dead right? Is this how we want to approach this issue? Is this really the recommendation that we want to be making in relation to this policy? So really providing opportunities for people to share their comments. It's a safe environment, a free environment, ensuring to invite them to, you know, provide input, participate and provide alternative modes of participation. If anybody's not comfortable with, you know, just verbally communicate, communicating their feedback to provide opportunities. You know, just in terms of like putting the comments in the chat box or even reaching out, reaching out to us via email.
00;56;22;28 - 00;56;38;18
Mm hmm. I would imagine that one of the things that makes accessibility especially challenging during a pandemic is working with long-term care residents on signing into a Zoom call. Were there any special measures that you took to make sure that everyone who wanted to participate could?
00;56;39;07 - 00;57;17;20
Absolutely. So we actually asked, when we invited residents, we essentially reached out to them for those that had registered to participate in our discussion forums. They actually personally reached out to them and asked them if they needed support with connection and if in a few instances they essentially said, yes, that they would require support in terms of connecting to Zoom, so on and so forth. And then we actually contacted their care home and found a staff member who could then support them with technology related issues.
00;57;18;11 - 00;57;24;21
Nice. And so how many residents do you know offhand how many residents came to these dialogs?
00;57;25;03 - 00;57;34;28
We had about five residents participate in all of the health authority, as well as the final virtual debrief.
00;57;34;28 - 00;57;37;15
And how many people total came to these dialogs?
00;57;38;00 - 00;57;59;01
So the total, I would say it's probably around 60 or 70 people altogether. But, I mean, there were some people who were participating in the Health Authority Discussion Forum as well as the final virtual debrief. But overall, I think there were probably about 60 or 70 people.
00;57;59;17 - 00;58;04;20
Mm hmm. And that's in addition to all of the people who would have provided input through your operator survey.
00;58;05;01 - 00;58;09;23
Exactly. And we had about 20 people that respond to our operator survey.
00;58;10;05 - 00;58;18;15
Mm hmm. And the operator survey, just to have a sense of the context, how what did that look like? How was that administered? What kinds of questions did it ask?
00;58;19;12 - 00;59;44;26
So the operator survey essentially asked about pandemic management policies and practices in relation to seven domains, COVID-19 screening, the strict visitation policy, staffing, infection prevention and control procedures, communication, physical layout, leadership, and organizational support, particularly in relation to how frequently were you able to or how effectively were you able to implement these pandemic management policies and practices, and what were their impact on the health and safety of residents, family members and staff members? And what was their impact on mitigating the risk of spreading COVID-19? And so we essentially had this survey sent out to a purposefully selected sample of care homes. I believe there were about 100 hundred care homes that were purposefully selected by our advisory group members. And so we sent our survey to those individuals obtaining their email addresses and contacts through the B.C. Ministry of Health and Care Provider Association and essentially inviting their operators to complete our survey.
00;59;45;17 - 00;59;55;01
And between the survey and the dialogs, was there anything that really surprised you?
00;59;56;10 - 01;00;39;09
I have to say that the one thing that really surprised me was just the resilience, the resilience of everybody within long-term care staff, providers, leaders, residents, family members, dealing with the challenges, the pandemic, the challenges within the long-term care sector, and also challenges of the pandemic management policies and practices. It was honestly, really, really inspiring to see how everybody adapted very quickly and worked together to to survive the pandemic and survive it well.
01;00;41;13 - 01;00;50;00
What were some of the creative strategies that people at long term care developed to make it through some of the challenges of the pandemic?
01;00;50;12 - 01;01;53;22
Yeah. So one example, Erica, could be the fact that care homes adopted various ways of communicating with residents, family members as well as staff members. So not just sending emails but also phoning people if they had to – sending letters, posting on social media, making in-person visits to just make sure that everybody received those important updates in relation to pandemic management policies. As an example, another example I could give you in relation to the visitation policy, for example, when families could not come in to the facility as a result of the policy, essentially using technology, staff members, using technology, iPads, iPhones, smart devices to make sure that residents and families have a way to stay continue to stay in touch and connected.
01;01;54;05 - 01;02;19;22
Mm hmm. When we think about all of the different evolutions that all of us had to make in the way that we communicated during the pandemic, it sounds like this would be particularly challenging in the context of long-term care. I'm wondering in the conversations that you had through these dialogs and through other means, are there recommendations that have come out specifically related to communication?
01;02;19;28 - 01;03;56;16
Absolutely. One of the really important challenges in relation to communication for long-term care operators on staff was that they had received communication in relation to some of the policies and practices at the same time as other members of the public or without really advance notice, they were told to implement some policies and practices and so they were not because of that they did not really have the necessary resources to effectively implement, and it just created lots of challenges for them. So one of the recommendations that we've made is around the communication process, that it should be streamlined to ensure that essentially care homes are given enough time to appropriately implement new or modified policies, particularly with respect to policies that require proactive planning and resource allocation. As an example, the single site employment policy required a lot of work for care homes in terms of determining, you know, which which staff members were working at multi-site multi care homes, doing a lot of, you know, just, I guess, surveys and interviews with the staff to find that information out because care homes prior to the pandemic did not have at least a clear list of their staff members place of employment.
01;03;57;13 - 01;04;02;20
What are some of the recommendations that you think are most important to highlight coming out of this report?
01;04;03;11 - 01;06;11;29
So I think we already talked a bit about the visitation policy, the staffing situation, the communication issue, the other important pandemic management strategies, leadership and organizational support. We certainly know that the pandemic and pandemic related stressors created lots of mental health related challenges for staff as well as leadership. So one of the other recommendations that we're essentially making is, is for long-term care homes, to establish workplace mental health supports and interventions for their workers, and special attention must be given to certain groups of workers, including newly graduated health care workers, nurses, as well as those who might be a bit more novice in managerial and leadership positions. Because I think the leader and manager groups are certainly an overlooked population in the context of the pandemic, in that they were the ones that really orchestrated it and how the sector and how care homes responded to the pandemic, how policies were implemented, and they were really being pulled from different directions. You know, they had to respond to the concerns of staff members, to the concerns of family members, residents. So they had all of these demands and added demands and responsibilities placed on them and also having to deal with policies that were coming from the ministry dealing with health authority, sort of requirements, instructions sought and so forth. So they are really in need of mental health support. And so we need to be thinking of ways and strategies that could essentially be implemented in the sector to protect the mental health of our long-term care leaders, because we certainly don't want to lose them as a result of the pandemic.
01;06;13;13 - 01;06;50;21
Yeah, absolutely. One of my senses from all of the recommendations that you've been talking about, is that, in a sense these recommendations are, you know, thematically-oriented to consider something like staffing, consider improving a particular policy, but it's not on the level of “do this, this, and that.” It's on the level of: take this component of our context seriously and talk to the people who have been there to really develop policies that will build resilience across the healthcare ecosystem moving forward. Is that fair to say?
01;06;51;06 - 01;07;33;02
Absolutely. I think one of the most important overarching themes that we see across the recommendations is that we need to be responding to challenges to pandemic management policies and practices in collaboration with key stakeholders, whether they are in the staff group, leadership group, family group, resident group. We need to be inclusive of their perspective. And we need to make sure that strategies that and interventions that we introduced to the sector essentially reflect their needs.
01;07;35;13 - 01;07;48;03
And when people talk about that kind of inclusion in decision making, they often use this metaphor of creating a seat at the table. But in this context now, what are the tables that we're talking about?
01;07;49;04 - 01;08;40;04
So, I would say, like really these recommendations, Erica, are for policy makers and decision makers. And those would be within the Ministry of Health, within the health authorities in the province, and also with the leadership of long-term care homes, because they are the ones that are really in close contact with the B.C. Ministry of Health , with some of the other long-term care organizations, with the health authorities, and sort of everybody working together to ensure that the policies and the procedures that are developed for the sector during the pandemic and also beyond that are reflective of the needs of the users and the providers of the long-term care.
01;08;41;21 - 01;09;01;26
Naz, these dialogs and this whole initiative has covered such a richness of information in such a complicated space, as listeners are processing everything that you're sharing here and reading over your recommendations, once people take out their headphones, finish listening to this episode, what's the next step?
01;09;03;07 - 01;09;41;22
So the next step for our team is essentially to share the results as widely as possible with key stakeholders. The B.C. Ministry of Health, the participating health authorities, long-term care organizations like the B.C. Care Provider Association, Safe Care BC, long-term care homes. And also with families and residents through their respective councils. I think, by way of raising awareness about these recommendations, we're going to sort of keep each other accountable in terms of implementing these recommendations, hopefully in the near future.
01;09;42;13 - 01;09;49;10
Mm hmm. And a year from now, if all of this work has been successful, what do you expect to see?
01;09;49;14 - 01;10;34;12
I hope that, you know that at least some of these recommendations are effectively implemented and that we actually see an improvement in residents’ quality of life in staffs’ mental health and well-being, in working conditions of long-term care homes, in how families are sort of at the end of, or at the receiving end of the care, and essentially just having improved outcomes for various stakeholder groups and also for long-term care homes as a whole.
01;10;35;17 - 01;10;42;13
Mm-hmm. And if decision makers want to connect with you to get more involved in the work that you're doing, what's the best way for them to reach out?
01;10;42;24 - 01;10;58;15
I would say they can essentially either search my name online or send me and just, I guess, send me an email. My contact information would be available both on the recommendation booklet and also through UBC School of Nursing.
01;10;59;04 - 01;11;01;21
Hmm. Great, Naz. Thank you very much.
01;11;02;29 - 01;11;03;24
01;11;04;29 - 01;11;46;18
Thank you so much for listening to this conversation with Dr. Farinaz Havaei of the University of British Columbia School of Nursing. Naz's work has been advanced in collaboration with partners, collaborators. and actors across British Columbia and has been supported by the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. This podcast was produced by Hikma Strategies. I'm Erica Machulak, Hikma's founder. Production oversight by Sophia van Hees, our creative director, and the original music you're listening to now was composed by our artist in residence, Matthew Tomkinson. Thanks for listening.
Where to Start with the Microplastics Problem (it doesn't need to be the beginning or the end): Interview with Dr. Brian Hunt
Season 2, Episode 2
A conversation with Dr Brian Hunt about his research with herring around Denman Island, how microplastics can enter the food web, and why tackling microplastics requires a multi-directional approach and all levels of action.
In this wide-ranging conversation, we talk with Brian Hunt about his research with herring around Denman Island, how microplastics can enter the food web, and why tackling microplastics requires a multi-directional approach and all levels of action. Brian also shares his story about how an obsession with fish and an opportunity to join an Antarctic voyage helped shape his career, and how he (somewhat reluctantly) joined the research effort to help tackle the microplastics problem.
Topics discussed in this episode include:
- What a research study in microplastics looks like, from the perspective of a marine biologist who never planned to be a marine biologist
- How to navigate the vast systems involved in the plastics problem by identifying a place to start and working outwards
- The exciting potential of the UBC microplastics cluster to bring together different disciplines and partners to solve complex problems
- And the many benefits of doing this work in British Columbia!
Dr. Brian Hunt is a member of the UBC Cluster for Microplastics, Health and the Environment, which brings together a highly interdisciplinary group of scholars aiming to ultimately support the development of informed policies regarding plastics pollution.
UBC is situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam First Nation on the Point Grey campus, and the Syilx Peoples on the Okanagan campus.
This episode was produced for the UBC Cluster for Microplastics, Health and the Environment by Hikma Strategies. It includes original music composed by Matthew Tomkinson, the 2022 Hikma Artist in Residence. This score interweaves musical notes and the crunching and clicking of plastic to evoke the omnipresence of microplastics throughout our ecosystem. Matthew holds a PhD in Theatre Studies from the University of British Columbia.
Recording Date: Apr 1, 2022
00;00;00;11 - 00;00;28;18
Hello Hikma Collective listeners. My name is Erica Machulak, founder of Hikma, and we are pleased to launch a quick mini season where we are sharing collaborations we've done with public scholars working on some really interesting initiatives. In this episode you'll hear a conversation between myself and Dr. Brian Hunt at the University of British Columbia about his work on food webs and how relationships lead to better research and policy. Hope you enjoy.
00;00;29;09 - 00;01;44;27
Microplastics can be found in every corner of our ecosystem. We find them in the air that we breathe, in our soil, in our tires, and the clothing that we wear, in our waterways and our oceans, and the food that we eat. We even find them in our own bodies. When staring down a challenge this complicated, how do we decide where to start? That's one of many things we're talking about in this episode of the podcast by the University of British Columbia Cluster for Microplastics, Health and the Environment. Join us for a conversation with Brian Hunt about his research with Herring in British Columbia's Denman Island, how microplastics can enter the food web, and why tackling microplastics requires a multidirectional approach. Brian also shares his story about how an obsession with fish and an opportunity to join an Antarctic voyage helped shape his career, and how he somewhat reluctantly joined the research effort to help tackle the microplastics problem. Take a listen.
00;01;46;20 - 00;02;05;15
I'm Brian Hunt. I'm an assistant professor at the Institute for Oceans and Fisheries and I'm an ecosystem oceanographer, which means I study how the ocean works, how the Pelagic Ocean works, which is the open water part of our marine environment.
00;02;06;19 - 00;02;14;25
That's wonderful. Thanks, Brian, and thanks so much for being here. Tell us how you became interested in this field.
00;02;17;09 - 00;03;43;02
Well, to tell you the truth, I was trying to avoid becoming involved in microplastics because I felt that I was very well subscribed already in my research and I felt that microplastics was a it's a huge topic and it was going to be it was going to require serious devotion to really become very familiar with it and to make an impact in that area. But I was approached by some community members from the Salish sea, the members of the Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards, and the Comox Nation, who were concerned about the potential effects of microplastics on herring in the area around Denman Island. So Baynes Sound in particular. And this is a key spawning area for herring. The Salish sea herring population is the healthiest population in British Columbia, but they've really concentrated all their spawning area now in this area around Denman Island, when they used to spawn more diversely across the Salish sea. So it's become an increasingly important area for them. And herring are important because they underpin the food webs on the coast, they are just really an essential organism, essential elements in the food web.
00;03;43;13 - 00;03;45;16
What is a food web? What does that mean?
00;03;46;01 - 00;03;55;25
The food web is all of the connected organisms in an ecosystem, and connected through consumption. So it's a network of animals that are feeding on each other, basically.
00;03;56;20 - 00;04;02;04
So is it like I mean, when we were in school, we would learn about a food chain, is a food web the same thing or is it different.
00;04;03;15 - 00;04;54;27
A food chain and a food web are similar. They referring to the same thing. They're referring to connection pathways between organisms through through consumption. So let's say phytoplankton are the base of the food web in the marine environment. And then they're consumed by zooplankton and the herring will eat the zooplankton and Chinook salmon will eat the herring. So that's a very simplified version. And it's a chain because it's one organism eating the other. But in reality, we have a web of animals out there. We have very diverse ecosystems and so are there multiple species that occupy any one trophic level or level in the food web. And so they interact in very diverse ways, and it makes this web of interactions, and that's why we call it a food web.
00;04;55;17 - 00;04;58;23
Okay. And so why are Herring so critical to this one?
00;05;00;26 - 00;05;55;07
Herring are critical because they link the zooplankton, the small zooplankton, to higher level predators. So the herring are around I mean, they start off as tiny little eggs and larvae that are ten millimeters long. But when they're maturing growing up, they end up in the range of 20 to 30 centimeters in size. And so that's a good size for consumption by lots of different animals, there will be birds and seals and sea lions and bigger fish like salmon, humpback whales, will feed on on herring. And what the herring are doing is converting plankton into something that is edible by these bigger organisms. Those big organisms are not able to feed on the plankton because they're just too small. So they're the intermediaries. They make the plankton available to the rest of the food web.
00;05;56;03 - 00;05;58;15
Okay. And so where do microplastics fit in here?
00;05;59;10 - 00;08;18;23
So, let's come back to those herring population around Denman Island. So herring are plankton eaters, and they so they're swimming around and they're eating all the small particles in the ocean, and that really starts from their larval stages when they're really eating tiny things, to when they're growing up and the eating plankton that might be the size of a like a pea or a little bit bigger than that perhaps. And so they are engaging with the part of the food web that interacts with microplastics. So microplastics are these tiny little plastic particles that are less than five millimeters in size that are free drifting in the ocean. Well, they can be in the sediments as well, but for the herring we're interested in what's free drifting. And so either the zooplankton can be eating those plastics or the herring can be eating those plastics. And so it's a way for those plastics to enter the food web. And because there's so many animals that feed on herring, it becomes a pathway for plastics into the higher levels of the food chain. So up to those those big animals like Chinook salmon and whales and seabirds, etc.. So this is very important then to have a situation that herring are potential vectors for plastics transfer or transfer to the rest of the food web.
But before we even get into that point, plastics are important because of the potential effects that they have on herring. And so there was a particular concern raised around the area in Baynes Sound because of what's seen as a plastic problem with the shellfish industry. So there's a lot of shellfish farming there. There's a lot of plastic used in this industry. People observed plastic in that environment. There's cleanups, regular cleanups to to remove that plastic. And so there is concern that the plastic from the shellfish industry was entering the food chain getting into the water and then potentially a threat to herring. And this critical herring population that lives in this particular environment will spawn in this environment around Denman Island in Baynes Sound.
00;08;18;23 - 00;08;28;26
So when you say that the plastic is used in the farming of the shellfish, does that mean that it's in the equipment that is used in the farming in some way? What does that look like?
00;08;28;26 - 00;09;18;07
Yeah, there's well, in the shellfish industry, plastic is used for platforms for growing the shellfish that could be on the ropes from which the shellfish are suspended in the water. It's used in the transport of the shellfish and so the plastic that is, that is being used though it's large pieces of plastic. So this is not something that can actually be eaten by a hearing for instance, or a small organism. But the debris of this plastic was getting into the environment and then it can break down into smaller and smaller particles, which is what plastic tends to do. It gets smaller and smaller. And as it's getting smaller, it becomes accessible to other animals. So small animals can consume those plastics and that's how they can get into the food web.
00;09;19;07 - 00;09;36;09
Really interesting. Okay. Thank you. That's helpful visual. So could you walk us through in the work that you're doing with the herring, sort of the step by step of the way that you approach your research? What is the question that you start with to begin the process.
00;09;38;09 - 00;10;35;00
With this particular project our objective was to know how much plastic there was in the environments where the herring live. And particularly during the time when the young herring, the larval and juvenile herring, are growing up in this environment. So they use this environment for the very early life history. So for the first few months of their lives. And so we were interested in the in the plastic that was in this environment that they would be coming into contact with and then measuring whether that plastic was being consumed, either by the hearing directly or by the animals that they feed on, the zoo plankton. And that information helps us understand whether the plastic is actually reaching the herring and the next step would then be to figure out what the impact of that would be. But our purpose is really just to generate the baseline information of what's there, and is it reaching herring?
00;10;35;26 - 00;10;38;07
And how do you do that? And what are the steps?
00;10;39;02 - 00;11;39;26
So to figure out what plastic is in the water, we use oceanographic techniques. So we collect water samples, and then we filter these water samples to remove all the small particles using very fine mesh filters. And then we also do net sampling to collect the zooplankton and larval herring. And we can then collect out particularly plankton species, individuals, and the larval herring stages. And we take all of these samples, the water, the zooplankton, and the herring larvae back to the lab. And then we basically have to dissolve away all of the organic matter that's in the sample. And what's left behind is hard particles, some of which are plastic and some of which are not plastic. At that stage we call them suspected microplastics. And then we have to investigate all of those particles to figure out whether they actually are plastic or not.
00;11;41;02 - 00;11;50;19
And so you mentioned that you were looking for the quantity of plastic in the water at a particular time of year. Is there a reason that there would be more plastic in the water at one time of the year than another?
00;11;52;12 - 00;13;06;13
The reason why we're looking at plastic concentrations at a particular time of year was that we were really focusing on the early life history of herring. And herring spawn in February/March, which is about the time of the spring phytoplankton bloom. That's an important time of the year. That's when the productive season in the ocean is starting. So the herring are you know, they're very strategic, and when they do their spawning - so they're laying the eggs so that the larvae are hatching at a good time to eat, to feed. And so we started something then, because we wanted to know how those larvae, when they're hatching out, how they're interacting with plastics. So how much plastic is there, how much they're ingesting, and and also to some extent what the probability of ingestion was. One of the things that was interesting from the study was realizing that, if you look at the ratio of microplastic particles to natural particles that the herring larvae eat, it's actually it's very low. There's there's a huge amount of natural material out there. So the chance of them actually eating a microplastic particle is, is pretty low, which was an interesting finding.
00;13;07;07 - 00;13;08;05
Any idea why?
00;13;09;21 - 00;15;27;13
Well, just because of the huge number of small plankton that are out there. So small phytoplankton, what we call microzooplankton, very small plankton particles, there's just so many of those compared to microplastics of the size that the local herring might be eating, that the chance of them encountering microplastics are very slim. So unless there's something about this microplastics that's very appealing to them, you know, that they see that maybe it's got a color or a shape or something that they like, which makes them select the microplastic as a food particle. We would expect that they wouldn't have many microplastics in their stomachs. And that's what we noticed, in fact, with the larval herring. Yeah. So there's an extension to this. So if you look at the size distribution of microplastics in the water, there's a huge array of sizes. And we didn't measure the whole size range, but we measured a good size range, I'd say. And what we notice is that as the plastics get bigger, the number of particles, natural particles, so plankton of the same size decreases as well. So the ratio gets closer to one, which means that you start having more microplastics relative to natural particles. And so this means that if you are something that's feeding on bigger particles, your chance of eating a microplastic is much higher than if you're a small larval herring. So that's very interesting because the young of the year herring, so the juvenile herring from the spawning in the February, and we sampled in September when they were about ten centimeters long, they had the highest concentration of microplastics in their stomachs. So there was a higher chance of them eating plastics, we could estimate that and this was demonstrated in what we actually saw in their stomachs. So the risk of microplastic consumption increased as the fish got larger, which was quite an interesting finding.
00;15;27;29 - 00;15;31;08
So what are some of the implications of that finding or what might they be?
00;15;32;11 - 00;16;13;28
Well, the implications of this are firstly that the risks are greater for larger fish, or at least the probability of consumption is higher for larger herring. And so if we're looking to understand the effects of plastic on herring, it might be more important to focus on these juvenile stages when they're eating more plastic than on the larval stages, which seem to have a very low risk of plastic consumption. And so if we were going to move to the next step of really trying to understand the effects of plastics, it would be good to concentrate on these juvenile stages rather than the larval stages.
00;16;14;16 - 00;16;20;17
Is that the next step in the study? What where do you go from here based on what you've built so far?
00;16;21;22 - 00;17;40;29
Good question. Well, the logical next step would be to do some experiments, I think, with plastics, to try and understand the potential effects of plastics on these juvenile herring. And one doesn't necessarily need to use juvenile herring as a model organism. One could use other animals in an experiment. But I think that this is really an important gap is - yes, we can detect the uptake of plastic into the stomach of of an animal. But the gap then is what does that actually mean? What does it mean for the health of the animal? And there's various bits of evidence out there that show either no or sometimes slightly negative effects. But I think that this needs to be done on an organism about organism basis. And it's quite challenging to do because I think one of the things that we've seen from experimental studies is that it's important to run them for quite a long time, not just have short term studies that are potentially not capturing the true effects of plastic consumption. And so this is something that's very difficult to do.
00;17;41;15 - 00;17;45;22
So can you say a little bit more about why running them for a long time is important?
00;17;46;10 - 00;21;09;03
I think that running the experiments of plastics for a long time is important because the effects might be slow, let's say chronic effects and slow to observe, slow to take effect. And so if we don't really run experiments for a long period of time, we could miss the significance of plastics to organism health. And so there's definitely a move, and certainly in some research groups, to run longer experiments, and experiments can be over a year in length to really enable us to understand chronic effects, which could be through the physical effects of eating plastics, but could also be through the chemical constituents of plastics, which by that I'm particularly thinking of toxins that might have long-term effects on organisms.
So we got to the end of the study and we had identified two areas for next steps. One was trying to understand the effects of plastics on the fish themselves. And you could do this potentially with experimental studies. The other is to look at the effects of plastics or even the distribution of plastics that are smaller than microplastics. And so it becomes quite obvious when you're looking at the data that there is a lot going on and the smaller you go, the more microplastics you have. And the when you're getting below microplastics, you get into a size category we call nanoplastics. And these are extremely difficult to both sample and measure, probably more difficult to measure than actually collect. But these these particles are so small that it's difficult to isolate them from a sample and then to make the chemical measurements to determine that they are indeed microplastics is quite challenging.
So I think an important area of research is to develop methods to understand the currents and distribution of nanoplastics, not just in the environment, but also in organs and tissues, because there is some interesting recent results showing the uptake of nanoplastics across the stomach into the organism tissues, so they can actually be found within the tissues. This is really important because it means that there's the potential for plastics to be transferred up the food webs, in tissues, and to bioaccumulate as well. So plastics are not just in the stomach, which is ultimately going to be egested, it's going to be passed through the intestine and and egested. And if the plastics are absorbed into the tissues, then they can be retained and they can accumulate over time. And that is a much bigger problem then than something that's just passing through the intestine. The nanoplastics everywhere - same with microplastics - they're in the atmosphere, they're in the soils, they're in freshwater and saltwater, and so atmospheric plastics can just be breathed in and get to your lungs and potentially be taken up that way. So it doesn't have to be just through the diet.
00;21;10;14 - 00;21;15;00
So how when you say atmospheric plastics, what exactly does that mean?
00;21;16;12 - 00;22;18;04
That means small particles of plastics that are just floating around and being moved by the air, air movement. So we know this is a problem because when we are doing research on plastics, we have to be incredibly careful about contamination. And so we have methods to measure the plastics that are just in the environment. Wherever we're doing anything, whether we are something or in the lab processing samples, we have some some way to measure what's in the environment that could be contaminating our samples so that we can take that into account. This is very important. And so we know when we do this, so if we leave a Petri dish open on a benchtop in a lab and we look at it later, it has microplastics in it. And these could be coming from your clothing, someone else's clothing through the air ducts. There's lots of pathways for that.
00;22;18;19 - 00;22;32;15
So I mean, to recap, of course we all know that nano means very small, but microplastics are so tiny that they're in the air everywhere all the time? Are we breathing them in with every breath? Do we know?
00;22;32;15 - 00;23;40;17
Microplastics are around in the air and we are breathing them in. That's for sure. How many are we breathing in? I'm not sure. But they are there and they can be coming from many different sources. So just think of all the ways that we use plastic. So there's lots of big plastic structures everywhere. There's car tires, there's synthetic clothing. It's used in so many different ways. And so a lot of the plastics are large, but they all get degraded, break down over time and = become smaller and smaller. And they can then they become microplastics and they can become airborne just through the wind blowing. And so you know, one of the sources could be a landfill site that has a lot of plastic in it. And, you know, that is that is degrading over time. And that dust that is blown off that landfill site will have plastic in it. But it doesn't have to be a landfill site. There is plastic all over the place. So there are lots of sources.
00;23;40;17 - 00;23;51;09
There are lots of sources and many points of entry, it sounds like, into the way that we talk about where microplastics exist in our ecosystem. How do you figure out where to start?
00;23;52;05 - 00;25;26;06
So I think we are interested in the, at the largest scale, we are interested in the lifecycle of plastic. And so that means knowing where we introduce it to the system, and the system could be anything. It could be our city, it could be farming, it could be it could be anywhere. But it could also be how we introduce it to a natural system. And so you know, how it might get into a forested area that is for all intents and purposes, untouched by humans. And the starting point is to first you know the entry point. So where are we using plastic? And then to understand the movement of that plastic sideways and vertically through the environment. And so to do that effectively, it's quite clear now that we need to be taking into accounts what's in the atmosphere, what's in the waterways, what's in the soils and and what is in the ocean.
And what's important for me as a marine biologist is to know, firstly, what are the sources? So where's all this plastic coming from? And then how it is.. I'm immediately interested in how it affects the living things and the living, breathing ecosystems that we depend on. And then beyond that, where does it end up finally? What are the places where it actually accumulates?
00;25;27;21 - 00;25;44;11
Really interesting. Brian, I wonder if I could ask you to take as wide a lens as possible on your own work and tell us the story of how you became interested in marine biology. How has your research program evolved over time?
00;25;45;13 - 00;28;44;17
Hmm. I wouldn't say that I was. So I mean, I never considered myself to be a marine biologist, but, um, I guess that's what I am in some ways. Well I study biology in the ocean. But I would say that from my earliest recollection, this was just something that I did. I was interested in biology in the ocean. Whether it was fish or plankton or seaweeds or rocky shores or estuaries or whatever it might be. The truth is that I'm fascinated by everything in our, in our environments, so all ecosystems are equally fascinating, but I never wanted to get into a career of marine biology. That wasn't my goal I would say. Of all the things that exist in the natural world, I suppose I was most fascinated by fish and I would say almost obsessed with fish. And so my goal was to study fish. So the reason why I got into marine biology, and I distinctly remember telling people that I would never be a marine biologist, was that someone offered me an opportunity to go to Antarctica when I had finished my undergrad degree as a research technician on a research voyage, oceanography voyage. And I thought, well, I'd never dreamed I'd go to the Antarctic, but this is an opportunity I can't pass up. So I went and I did that. And then I just totally loved this experience of doing research on the ocean. And so that totally changed my career path, I would say.
And so now I do I do work in the Pelagic Ocean. I say that I do that, but I'm very interested in much more than that. I'm interested in the connection between systems. And so I think that that maybe the overarching, overarching thing for me is that I really feel strongly bound to all ecosystems on earth. And I am fascinated by the connections between them also. So whether that is the atmosphere, land, freshwater, or oceans. I just happen to be working in the oceans. But I'm always looking to the land. I'm looking to the water, the fresh water. I'm looking to the atmosphere and how it connects with my marine systems that I'm so fond of and how it impacts them and how they feed back to each other, their positive and negative feedbacks.
And part of that system is humans. And and so that's, that's part of what I research, is this human interaction with all of these different ecosystems and how they work, trying to figure out how they work so that we can do our best to sustain them and perhaps get them back to a healthier state.
00;28;45;01 - 00;29;12;03
Really interesting. It strikes me that you're talking about this vast, not just in a systems level approach, but in a multi systems level approach and finding the points of connection between all of these things. But then at the same time you're able to look at it in the context of something as specific as herring. How do you navigate the complexity of the vast system that you're looking at and how do you identify these specific points of connection to investigate?
00;29;12;20 - 00;30;37;01
Well, it's helpful when you're trying to navigate a complex system, it's helpful to just have a starting points. And the starting point doesn't have to be the beginning or the end. It can be it's just a, it's a node in a network and so herring is that. Herring is a node in a network that is, firstly it's a food web. But secondly, and beyond that, it's an ecosystem. And the difference between the food web and the ecosystem is that with the food web we're just thinking about organism connections in terms of who eats whom. And from the ecosystem perspective, we're thinking about all of the non-biological factors that are affecting the food web, whether it's the nutrients that are available for plant growth or temperature effects or freshwater effects or you know, might be fishing effects on the food web, on the ecosystem. So there are these different layers. And so coming back to this question about how to navigate complex systems, I do find that it's very helpful to have a starting point, a node in the web and to work out from there and identify connections. And if you as you work outwards from any one node, you can identify all of the connections in the end.
00;30;37;01 - 00;30;57;14
And so since the beginning of the UBC Microplastics Cluster, you've worked with academics in the field, who are in a number of different fields, and are all members of this research group. What do you see as some of the sort of existing benefits or potential benefits of working with academics across disciplines?
00;30;58;21 - 00;33;54;10
The UBC Microplastics Cluster in particular is a very interesting collection of people because they cover such a broad array of disciplines and they are experts in their disciplines. They really are world leaders in their disciplines. And so it's quite an exciting group of people and enables us to tackle almost all aspects of the microplastic problem at a very high level.
And I think the cluster itself is very exciting because of the potential to, to really work away from one's area of expertise and to connect with people that are doing things in quite different ways. And so to really have a holistic approach really to microplastic problem. So taking it from, you know, the production phase, looking at the lifecycle of plastics, you know taking it from the production phase all the way through to the movement of plastic through the system, identifying sources in the environment, identifying effects on organisms, including people, and then also thinking about solutions for, you know, how we can optimize our systems to minimize these inputs, plastic inputs to the environment.
I think with the microplastics cluster, our intention is to really understand the lifecycle of plastic and the ecosystem effects and potential solutions to the plastic problem. I think that it would be really wonderful if this is seen as, that plastic is seen as almost a sentinel in a way of a much bigger problem than just plastic. There's a lot of other human impacts in the ocean, in the land, in the atmosphere. There are other pollutants, there's you know, there's climate change. There's various other things that are going on that are extremely important. And I think that if we use the sort of integrated approach to studying the plastic problem, it would be ideal if that can be applied more broadly to other problems as well.
So we need to keep in mind, we need to remember, that the plastic problem does not occur in isolation and that we need to be linking it back to other human induced pressures on our systems because again, it comes back to integrated effects. So it could be, and will be, the case that you know, the plastic problem will be mediated by other stresses on the environment.
00;33;54;10 - 00;34;18;07
So what do you think is the key to studying problems that are this vast and involve this many different layers and stressors and considerations? What kind of approach is needed, from a collaborative perspective, to drive the research forward and take the research out of the universities and drive better policies and practices.
00;34;18;07 - 00;36;38;26
It's a good question. So I think the the microplastic problem is one that could seem maybe overwhelming because it has such vast scales. But I don't think that we should think about not being able to to deal with this. I think we we have to approach it from different directions and it requires all levels of action. So it requires academic research for sure. And that can be from local to global scales. And that could be research on effects at a local scale to research on distributions at a global scale. And research into policies that can be developed to reduce the production and use of plastic, and measures to limit their introduction to the environment.
So there are these many different scales. But I think that it absolutely needs to go beyond just research. And obviously policy does that to a large extent because just by the nature of of what it is. But we also need to engage with people outside of academia, in industry, NGOs, and members of the public. So doing so on different scales because I think everything we do makes a difference. And so it could be just you know, reaching people to educate on plastic use in the home. That makes a difference. As well as working with industry to have different sort of manufacturing processes that decrease plastic production, or whether it's, you know, waste management, like how we deal with waste and and limit the introduction of plastic to our system. So definitely we need a multi scaler approach that is, both in space and also with the, basically stakeholders that we would be engaging with.
00;36;39;04 - 00;36;45;11
And what does it mean to be doing this work in British Columbia in particular?
00;36;45;11 - 00;39;49;19
I feel that British Columbia is a place where.. we have an amazing, beautiful natural environment here. And I feel as though we, there's a lot of passionate people here, about the environment. So people who really care about the environmental health. And so it's a place where you can, there can really be action. There are people across all sectors of society who are interested and looking after this place. And so that makes it an exciting place to work for that reason because it feels like change is actually possible. So in B.C., I would say that, you know, we have the potential to be leaders in solutions to problems. From a research perspective, I think in British Columbia, we have an opportunity to research the effects of plastics on, I would say, model systems, a lot of model systems. You know, that could be, we talked a lot about we talked a lot about herring. And herring, the pelagic food web and the role of herring as something that's very important. And it's a model system that can be where information gained from their system is applicable to many other parts of the world as well. So I suppose in some ways when we're thinking about the work that we do is important to try and put it in a context that makes it suitable or relevant to people in other parts of the world. And, you know, we do want to have impact with our research. We do want it to be meaningful. And so sometimes that means not thinking about particular species, but more about, you know, the functional role of an animal, for instance, in a system. Or a particular ecosystem type, rather than just being very specific with a place or a particular species.
One of the benefits, one of the many benefits, of working in British Columbia is that we have people across all sectors who are very passionate about their environments. Which means that it's possible to engage you know, from our, we work out from a research perspective to, we can engage with people who are trying to find solutions in the ocean that, maybe they're doing restoration projects. We can engage with people in industry who are interested in doing things in a different way, a more environmentally friendly way. We can engage with policymakers who are like minded. So, yeah, I think it's a system where we can try some models on for size, some models of doing things and then be world leaders in that sense of finding better ways to to do things, to have sustainable systems.
00;39;49;27 - 00;40;52;09
Erica MachulakThank you for listening to the podcast of the University of British Columbia Cluster for Microplastics, Health and the Environment. This cluster brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars aiming to support the development of informed policies regarding plastics pollution. UBC is situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam First Nation on the Point Grey Campus and the Syilx Peoples on the Okanagan Campus.
This episode was produced for the UBC cluster for Microplastics Health and the Environment by Hikma Strategies. I'm your host, Erika Machulak, working with Creative Director Sophia van Hees. This episode includes original music composed by Matthew Tomkinson, the 2022 Hikma Artist in Residence. This score interweaves musical notes and the crunching and clicking of plastic to evoke the omnipresence of microplastics throughout our ecosystem. Matthew holds a Ph.D. in Theatre Studies from the University of British Columbia.
Three Tips to Plan Your Funding Strategy
Season 2, Episode 1
Erica Machulak, founder of Hikma, shares three of her top tips for planning an effective and manageable funding strategy for the next year.
This episode provides a taste of what you can expect in Hikma's 'Funding Strategy' masterclass. For more information visit www.hikma.studio/masterclass
00;00;13;18 - 00;00;46;11
Welcome or welcome back to the Hikma Collective Podcast, Season two. My name is Erica Machulak, I'm the founder of Hikma. It is January and we are thrilled to be back with you. In the season that follows, you'll hear a couple of episodes that are guest pieces that we've produced for our clients. So you'll get to hear about some pretty amazing research that academics have used to mobilize their work, connect with partners and policy makers, and tell a good research story.
00;00;47;06 - 00;01;20;10
But before we get there, in this episode I'm going to offer three tips to plan your funding strategy for the next year. If you like what you hear, if you'd like to hear more, head on over to www.hikma.studio. That's our website where you'll find blog posts, more podcast episodes and information about our upcoming masterclasses, where we'll be covering funding strategy and development as well as research communication, project design, and some other topics that may be useful to you.
00;01;21;00 - 00;02;14;03
So here are my three tips for planning an effective and manageable funding strategy for the next year. Tip one: Protect your schedule now. If you know what you want to apply for, add those deadlines to your calendar immediately. Pause this app and go do it. If you have certain competitions in mind but you're not sure of the exact deadlines, go look at what the deadlines were last year and make your best guess.
00;02;14;09 - 00;02;31;13
If you have no idea what you want to apply for, now is a good time to go poking around and see approximately when things are due. Often many deadlines for the same kind of funding will fall at the same time, so you can get an estimated guess of when you're going to need to be available to get that work done.
00;02;32;10 - 00;02;58;27
So second piece of this is block time now in the days, weeks and months before that deadline to get the work done. There are a lot of gears that you can put in motion well ahead of time even before the competition has opened up. And you want to make sure that you get into a rhythm so that you know what you want to apply for and you're prepared to get the work done on a manageable schedule and submit something that you're proud of and excited to follow through on.
00;02;59;14 - 00;03;28;10
Now, if anyone asks, you cannot meet on those days, during those times that you've set aside because you have a preexisting commitment. Say it with me now: I am not available at that time because I have a preexisting commitment. Setting that time aside for yourself and protecting it in your schedule will enable you to focus on the project and move it forward and prioritize it for yourself and for your colleagues.
00;03;28;17 - 00;03;48;17
My second piece of advice is to evaluate last year's progress. Reflect on what you've done and think about what you can learn from the past, how you can report on what you've done in the past, and what you want to do moving forward. One of the ways that you can do that is to take a few hours to update your CV or resume.
00;03;48;25 - 00;04;12;22
What did you achieve in the last year? How do you measure those achievements and how do you communicate them? What are the impact stories you can tell to show what went well? Second piece of that to reflect on is where specifically would more funding have enabled you to deepen or expand your work? Where did you simply not have the budget to do things that you would have liked to do?
00;04;13;08 - 00;04;40;28
Those pieces can be very tangible items that you can include in future budgets that you'll be able to rationalize more specifically and compellingly if you think them through in context and specifically. Another piece of that reflection that really matters and is often undervalued in the way that we think about funding proposals is to ask yourself what you are genuinely excited to work on in the next year.
00;04;41;21 - 00;05;08;25
We all find more energy and time for the things that light us up. That's just true. So reflect, think about it and use that passion to your advantage as you're planning your next steps. My third and final piece of advice for now is to stoke relationships. I say 'stoke' because one of our team members used this language that I really liked that resonated with me.
00;05;08;26 - 00;05;35;03
Toward the end of last year, there were a million holiday parties happening, as there always are, and we were both groaning about making the effort to go. And she said, you know, at this point I'm just trying to keep those relationships warm. And in truth, that is what those end of year gatherings are for. It's to bring people together, to remind each other that we exist, and just be there and be supportive and check in.
00;05;35;03 - 00;06;07;02
But January and the first few months of the year are a really a good time to strengthen those relationships by rekindling them - I'm going to keep up with these puns and mixed metaphors - So take the time, plant the seeds. A few ways to do that. One is simply to send some email check ins to folks. You might use those emails to remind people of the work that you've done together in the previous year and talk about next steps that you had discussed.
00;06;07;12 - 00;06;30;19
Coffees, in person coffees or virtual coffees are a great way to deepen strategic relationships that you really want to invest in. Make that time. Take that time and refresh those relationships and talk about where the alignment is. Maybe it's the same as it was a year ago and everyone's just as excited and just as just the same in terms of their capacity.
00;06;30;19 - 00;06;54;22
Or maybe things have shifted on your side or the other side, and either there are new opportunities for alignment or you need to recalibrate plans that you had discussed previously. These days, so many things can shift around that having those conversations early and often will help you surface opportunities and manage your time well.
00;06;54;22 - 00;07;20;10
So those are three tips. I hope you enjoyed them and I wish you a stress free or stress mitigated or an exciting year as you think about your funding proposals. And I hope that you find ways to move your work forward with with confidence and intention and genuine excitement for all the things you're going to achieve this year. And we hope to work with you.
00;07;20;10 - 00;07;47;05
So if you found these tips useful or if you want to hear more where that came from, again go ahead and visit us at wwww.hikma.studio. Check out our blog. Check out our podcast. Definitely check out our upcoming masterclasses, the first of which will cover funding strategy and grant development. I genuinely hope to see you there and look forward to sharing more content with you this year.
00;07;47;11 - 00;08;21;15
Thanks for listening. We hope you've enjoyed this episode of the Hikma Collective podcast. I'm your host, Eric Machulak, writer, medievalist and founder of Hikma. The production of this episode was led by our fearless creative director, Sophia van Hees in collaboration with Nicole Markland, Dasharah Green, Eufemia Baldassarre and Matthew Tomkinson. Matthew composed the original music you hear now in his capacity as the 2022 Hikma Artist in Residence.
00;08;22;15 - 00;08;46;12
This podcast has been made possible with generous support from Innovate B.C., Tech Nation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. You can find show notes, links and transcripts at www.hikma.studio/podcast. Hikma is situated on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the ən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking Musqueam people.
00;08;47;12 - 00;09;07;21
We are grateful to be here and to share this space with you. Our speakers, team members and listeners are based all over the world and wherever you're listening, we encourage you to learn more about whose lands you're on.
The Hikma Collective Podcast is a tapestry of ideas tested, relationships built, and learnings gathered since our organization launched in October 2020.
The mission of the Hikma Collective is to build a crossroads and community for people who drive change by translating ideas across contexts.
As we say in our Season 1 trailer, “change is a process—not a moment.” We invite you to learn more about our process and next steps.
Season One: The Art of Alternatives
In this season, you’ll hear conversations with higher ed administrators, startup founders, and social sector leaders about the creative power of ‘in-betweenness’ and the many different pathways through which ideas take shape, travel and thrive.Listen to Season One
Hikma is situated on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the ən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-speaking xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people. Our speakers, team members and listeners are based all over the world. Wherever you are, we encourage you to learn more about whose lands you're on.
Our work would not be possible without the generous encouragement, labor, and funding of many. We thank our past and present team members, speakers, mentors, funders, and Hikma Collective members for making this work possible.
Our first season features guest speakers from our Summer 2020 course, Entrepreneurship for PhDs. This program brought together a cohort of creative and generous emerging scholars and speakers across academia, industry, and the social sector. The participants and speakers in this course inspired and built the foundations for our learning community, the Hikma Collective.
This podcast weaves together the ideas and contributions of Hikma team members, many of whom have enriched our work as students and consultants: Matthew Tomkinson (2022 Artist in Residence), Nadia Sasso (Equity Consultant), Amanda Bohne (Learning Advisor), Chiara de Silva (Course Coordinator), Nicole Markland (Virtual Community Specialist), Dasharah Green (Digital Storytelling Coordinator), Eufemia Baldassarre (Partnership Development Coordinator), and Sophia van Hees (Creative Director).
At Hikma, we are committed to supporting emerging scholars and practitioners through our internships, made possible with the generous support of our partners and funders. The following organizations have supported this podcast by funding past and present members of the Hikma team. We thank them for their investment in creative, outstanding people who have enriched and amplified our work.