As the Cardiff Met Global Academies are growing, we are bringing new staff in to support the strong research ambitions across the University. Recently, the Health & Human Performance Global Academy led by Prof Diane Crone recruited Dr Rachel Sumner as a Senior Research Fellow.
Rachel is a chartered psychologist specialising in psychobiology who brings with her a number of research interests and projects. One of these projects is CV19 Heroes, a long-running project tracking the welfare of frontline workers in the pandemic.
The project was set up by Rachel and her research partner Dr Elaine Kinsella, a chartered psychologist and international expert on heroism from the University of Limerick. The pair set up the project in March 2020 to understand the impact of the pandemic on those working on the frontline, and to establish differences in markers of welfare between those in the UK (largely leading with a “herd immunity” approach), and the Republic of Ireland (leading with a “suppression” approach at the time).
The project has been running and collecting data for almost two years and has been largely managed by Rachel and Elaine alone, with some support and help from a number of their students along the way.
So far, the pair have published four academic papers from the project and a policy white paper, with several others under review or in preparation. Their work has covered examining the difference between the two nations in terms of how frontline workers have fared, and explored similarities in experiences between the nations and the sectors of workers.
As a result of the work, they have established a novel aspect of burnout, which is now being researched by a jointly supervised PhD student awarded a scholarship at Rachel’s former institution. They have shared their work with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus, appearing twice to provide evidence from the study on both the impact of the pandemic on frontline workers and what should be done to prepare for the Winter of 2021/22. They have provided testimony as witnesses in the People’s Covid Inquiry to share their findings on the damaging impact of pandemic on those who have been working in frontline roles, with their findings being published in the recent report “Misconduct in Public Office” produced by The Inquiry.
They have also recently submitted a report to the Health and Social Care Committee in response to their recent call for evidence on workforce attrition across health and care sectors. Here, they have provided recommendations on what can be done to better support those in health and social care to prevent a catastrophic exodus of workers in these vital roles.
The project has now moved to Cardiff Met along with Dr Sumner and will be continuing for the foreseeable future. The next steps for the project are to release a new survey in March to capture the two-year milestone of the pandemic, and to expand their work into the social aspects of frontline worker burnout even further.
Among the journal articles being developed from the project, Rachel and Elaine have contributed a chapter to the forthcoming book “The Social Science of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Call to Action for Researchers” commissioned by Cambridge University Press and featuring work from social scientists from across the world. They are also working on a chapter for a forthcoming edited volume on burnout research in Covid-19, edited by world-leading burnout experts Prof Michael Leiter and Prof Sir Cary Cooper.