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We are delighted to announce that we are now training healthcare workers online in response to current restrictions on travel and face to face meetings as a result of the global pandemic.  We have begun a five-session course over seven weeks for front line health professionals in Barcelona, Spain, and focusing on early cleft care with an emphasis on feeding.  The training  is based around our Early Care Training Programme developed with a grant from the EU Erasmus programme in 2017 www.cleftectp.com.  The course was assessed by an external assessor and gained a score of 83%. We have been able to redevelop this and make it available as a live online training programme thanks to a grant from Smile Train who are keen to follow the course.

There were 30 participants on the first training (21 September 2020), comprising 24 healthcare professionals from Val d’Hebron and other hospitals in the Barcelona area together with observers and the trainers, Gareth Davies, Executive Director of ECO,and Kostadinka Bojikova, specialist cleft nurse from Plovdiv Bulgaria.  Kostadinka, who we funded to attend specialist cleft nurse training in the UK in 2007, has beeen a key member of our training team over the past 10 years.  It was a challenging, but necessary, switch to move from face to face to online training but feedback has been very positive with an average of 4.5/5 points for the first session on epidemiology.  We have used an online simultaneous interpretation platform (VoiceBoxer) to deliver the training in real time, ensuring sessions run smoothly and participants are able to fully engage.  The next sessions are on feeding infants born with clefts, impact on the family and finally a session on case histories where we hope participants will be able to bring along some of their own expereinces to share with others.  We are grateful to cleft surgeon Diana Bohórquez Benítez at Val d’Hebron hospital for coordinating the event locally.

We are planning further training in Slovenia next spring, hopefully face to face but if not we now have an effective  online option to deliver instead.

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