Furloughed workers including SAS cabin staff and hotel employees are undergoing a three-day intensive retraining course to be able to work in the care and healthcare sectors. Also among the trainees was Sweden's Princess Sofia, the wife of Prince Carl Philip who is fourth in line to the Swedish throne.
Princess Sofia is an honorary chair at Sophiahemmet, the hospital and training college where the course took place.
“Having the opportunity to help in this difficult time is extremely rewarding,” the royal wrote on Instagram, sharing a picture of her nursing scrubs and training equipment.
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She explained: “Last week, I undertook training in healthcare and care work at Sophiahemmet. Within the framework of the 'emergency response', I am now placed in one of the hospital's care departments where, together with other newly trained colleagues, I can support and relieve the care staff with various tasks, including care of patients and cleaning.”
Sophiahemmet is a private hospital, but has shared resources with the Stockholm region's healthcare by lending around 40 employees to work in intensive care units, and supporting surgery, primarily in cancer, in order to relieve the city's emergency hospitals treating coronavirus patients.
“Princess Sofia is at Sophiahemmet to relieve the regular assistants where help is needed,” the Royal Court's communications secretary Johan Tegel told TT.
The first round of training at Sophiahemmet had 30 places, but after a high level of interest further sessions were quickly arranged.
Participants on the course learn about infectious and viral diseases, hygiene protocols, patient privacy, and how to work with patients and their relatives.
The training course is aimed at getting furloughed workers into the care sector quickly, building on the existing medical training of cabin personnel for example to give them the skills to start work immediately during the coronavirus crisis.
But there are also signs of a longer-term rise in nursing trainees.
Applications for further education courses as a whole are at a record high in Sweden, and were up by 13 percent when they closed for the autumn term on Thursday.
“This is a fantastic increase, and especially pleasing is the number of the [applications to] nursing programmes with have increased by 33 percent. It shows that many people have a great social commitment in the country,” said Karin Röding, general director of the University and Higher Education Council (UHR).
After adjustments, it turned out that the rise in nursing applications had actually risen by 34 percent from last year. The increase for medical programmes was 26 percent, and for biomedical analysts the figure was 22 percent.
According to UHR, the increase applied to all age groups but was most notable among those about to leave high school, aged 19 or younger. Röding said it was too early to draw conclusions about the reason for the increase, but that times of uncertainty often attract more people to further education.
It's also possible that high school leavers are cancelling planned travel, which in Sweden is common after graduating, due to the global uncertainty and travel bans, and are instead applying straight to study programmes.
In Sweden, the official advice requires everyone to:
Stay at home if you have any cold- or flu-like symptoms, even if they are mild and you would normally continue life as normal. Stay at home until you have been fully symptom-free for at least two days.
Practise good hygiene, by regularly and thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water, using hand sanitiser when that's not possible, and covering any coughs and sneezes with your elbow.
Keep distance from all other people when in public places. That includes shops, parks, museums, and on the street, for example. The World Health Organisation recommends keeping at least a 1.5-2 metre distance.
Avoid large gatherings, including parties, weddings, and other activities.
Work from home if you can. Employers have been asked to ensure this happens where possible.
Avoid all non-essential travel, both within and outside Sweden. That includes visits to family, planned holidays, and any other trips that can be avoided.
If you have to travel, avoid busy times such as rush hour if you can. This reduces the number of people on public transport and makes it easier for people to keep their distance.
If you are over 70 or belong to a high-risk group, you should stay at home and reduce all social contacts. Avoid going to the shops (get groceries delivered or try to find someone who can help you), but you can go outside if you keep distance from other people. Read more about the help available to those in risk groups here.
By following these precautions, we can all help to protect those who are most at risk and to reduce the rate of infection, which in turn reduces the burden on Sweden's healthcare sector.
- Read more detail about the precautions we should all be taking in this paywall-free article. Advice in English is also available from Sweden's Public Health Agency and the World Health Organisation.