A card from Wuhan

Non-verbal cue cards

The inspiration for these comes from cue cards developed by the emergency response teams sent to Wuhan, where they faced up to a desprate sitiuation with an pioneering attitude to make do with what was available.

Many patients in the COVID-19 hospitals could not speak to staff, due to their illness, treatment (e.g. intubation), or because they had strong accents or spoke other dialects and languages. The staff designed cardboard “communication cards” to allow these patients to convey what they wanted to say.

Every time a person steps into a COVID-19 ward, they must spend valuable time putting on their protective equipment. The Wuhan teams wear full isolation suits, respirators (not simple masks) googles, splash guards, multiple gloves, shoe covers and more. They have to help each other tape all the joints and, once in the suits, work their shifts with no food, water or toilet breaks. Most of the PPE can only be worn once, so it is imperative not to waste it.

Bringing in unnecessary staff for the purposes of interpretation is not only risking another staff member’s health, but is also a waste of PPE and the time needed to put in on and take it off, not to mention the time wasted waiting for that to happen and the patient’s own discomfort.

Even for patients in critical or serious condition, it is vital to allow them to communicate effectively and with dignity: they are still people, and in fact, probably the most scared and helpless they have ever been. Giving them agency to communicate with the medical staff is almost as important as the medical care.

OnaCard wants to allow medical staff around the world to learn from these brave and resourceful people, so that we can all benefit from their hard work and sacrifice.