Irish Museums response to Covid-19
22 Mar 2020
Latest updates from the Irish Government
Latest updates from the UK Government
As we collectively come together to implement measures to interrupt the transmission of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), we are seeing our society as a whole - and among this our museums - deal with unprecedented and very difficult times.
Museums play a vital role in connecting people. You are a trusted voice, you provide context through your collections, and - through your programmes - you work with some of our more vulnerable citizens, those who are feeling even more isolated and at-risk during this crisis.
So many museums across the island have already started to place content and resources online, responding in an admirable way to your roles in informal education, health and well-being, and social connectivity. We are very grateful to you all for doing so.
At the IMA, we would like to reiterate our commitment to you, both as civic institutions and individual members who drive these activities forward. Over the past week, we have also been revising our own programming and advocacy priorities and will continue to do so in order to support you in the coming weeks and months.
In terms of immediate support programming:
- Online Content.
We are looking at ways to collate the extraordinary output of online resources being shared online and would ask you to connect with us using the hashtag #IrishMuseumsOnline and #MuseumFromHome to enable the wider public (and the sector) to not miss out on the work that you are doing. We are in talks also with some of our academic partners to assist us in documenting this content.
- We are bringing our networking online.
Starting this Wednesday, we will be holding a series of weekly online 'get-togethers' via Zoom so we can continue to connect, share information, network, exchange ideas, and - most importantly - work together as we look for ways to support our museums. These will be initially hosted by IMA board members as we look at the broader picture but the aim is to have different representatives across the island host more focused sessions going forward. Posed as 'Virtual Coffee Breaks', the first will be on Wednesday 25 March, hosted by IMA board members Ian Brunswick (Science Gallery), Riann Coulter (F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio) and Lar Joye (Dublin Port Company Heritage).
However, a key area that we wish to support you in is your own wellbeing.
As we are being asked to self-isolate and practice physical distancing, many of you are juggling personal and professional concerns.
Please don't hesitate at any point to pick up the phone to us (+353 (0)87 279 0518), even if it is just for a chat. We are in this together and share the same worries.
HSE - Minding your mental health
Thank you to National Museums Northern Ireland for drawing our attention to this information from the HSE on minding your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.
Infectious disease outbreaks like coronavirus (COVID-19), can be worrying. This can affect your mental health. But there are many things you can do to mind your mental health during times like this.
How your mental health might be affected
The spread of coronavirus is a new and challenging event. Some people might find it more worrying than others. Try to remember that medical, scientific and public health experts are working hard to contain the virus.
Most people’s lives will change in some way over a period of days, weeks or months. But in time, it will pass.
You may notice some of the following:
- increased anxiety
- feeling stressed
- finding yourself excessively checking for symptoms, in yourself, or others
- becoming irritable more easily
- feeling insecure or unsettled
- fearing that normal aches and pains might be the virus
- having trouble sleeping
- feeling helpless or a lack of control
- having irrational thoughts
- If you are taking any prescription medications, make sure you have enough.
How to mind your mental health during this time
- Keeping a realistic perspective of the situation based on facts is important. Here are some ways you can do this.
- Stay informed but set limits for news and social media
- The constant stream of social media updates and news reports about coronavirus could cause you to feel worried. Sometimes it can be difficult to separate facts from rumours. Use trustworthy and reliable sources to get your news.
- Read up-to-date, factual information on coronavirus in Ireland here.
- On social media, people may talk about their own worries or beliefs. You don’t need to make them your own. Too much time on social media may increase your worry and levels of anxiety. Consider limiting how much time you spend on social media.
- If you find the coverage on coronavirus is too intense for you, talk it through with someone close or get support.
Keep up your healthy routines
Your routine may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak in different ways. But during difficult times like this, it’s best if you can keep some structure in your day.
It’s important to pay attention to your needs and feelings, especially during times of stress. You may still be able to do some of the things you enjoy and find relaxing
For example, you could try to:
- exercise regularly, especially walking - you can do this even if you need to self-quarantine
- keep regular sleep routines
- maintain a healthy, balanced diet
- avoid excess alcohol
- practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises
- read a book
- search for online exercise or yoga classes, concerts, religious services or guided tours
- improve your mood by doing something creative
- Stay connected to others
During times of stress, friends and families can be a good source of support. It is important to keep in touch with them and other people in your life.
If you need to restrict your movements or self-isolate, try to stay connected to people in other ways, for example:
- social media
- video calls
- phone calls
- text messages
- Many video calling apps allow you to have video calls with multiple people at the same time.
- Remember that talking things through with someone can help lessen worry or anxiety. You don't have to appear to be strong or to try to cope with things by yourself.
- Talking to children and young people
- Involving your children in your plans to manage this situation is important. Try to consider how they might be feeling.
- Give children and young people the time and space to talk about the outbreak. Share the facts with them in a way that suits their age and temperament, without causing alarm.
- Talk to your children about coronavirus but try to limit their exposure to news and social media. This is especially important for older children who may be spending more time online now. It may be causing anxiety.
- Try to anticipate distress and support each other
- It is understandable to feel vulnerable or overwhelmed reading or hearing news about the outbreak.
- Acknowledge these feelings. Remind yourself and others to look after your physical and mental health. If you smoke or drink, try to avoid doing this any more than usual. It won’t help in the long-term.
Don’t make assumptions
Don’t judge people or make assumptions about who is responsible for the spread of the disease. The coronavirus can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, nationality or ethnicity. We are all in this together.
Online and phone supports
Face-to-face services are limited at the moment. But some services are providing online and phone services.
There are also many dedicated online services that can help.
Use our mental health services finder to find support. Check all the services websites to see what online and phone supports are available.
OCD and coronavirus
If you have OCD, you may develop an intense fear of:
- catching coronavirus
- causing harm to others
- things not being in order
- Fear of being infected by the virus may mean you become obsessed with:
- hand hygiene
- avoiding certain situations, such as using public transport
- Washing your hands
The compulsion to wash your hands or clean may get stronger. If you have recovered from this type of compulsion in the past, it may return.
Follow the advice to wash your hands properly and often, but you do not need to do more than recommended.
Things you can do to help:
- limit your news intake and only use trusted sources of information
- keep taking any medication you are on
- practice relaxation techniques and breathing exercises
Help Covid-19 efforts by donating your museum's PPE
Your museum can play a part in helping healthcare profesionals as they work on the frontline during this pandemic.
Evi Numen, Medical Museum Curator & Archivist, School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin, has compiled a list of the types of PPE requested and a list of hospitals, nursing homes, shelters and other institutions by location, so you can contact them and arrange a donation delivery.
Sources for this list include covidmedsupply.org and PPE calls by the individual institutions on social media. Some of the items requested will be out of the scope of what you have in your conservation tool kit, but you may know someone who can help source these items. Every donation helps.
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