First 2 courses | MOOC reflections | Understanding the rehabilitation needs of displaced persons

It has been a fantastic start to this year’s Annual Physiopedia MOOC on Understanding the Rehabilitation Needs of Displaced Persons, with great discussions from Rehabilitation Professionals from all across the world.

The breadth of professions in this year’s MOOC, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses, doctors, prosthetists, orthotists, psychologists, to name just a few – as well as the global distribution of participants – mean an incredible depth of experiences and knowledge sharing as participants explore the programme of courses on displaced persons.

Course 1: Global Context for Displaced Persons

What has become clear to me, and to many others, is that there is a wide range of terminology focused around the movement of people, with terms often mixed together and sometimes used interchangeably, which often results in confusion.

The words we use to talk about migration, in particular displacement, have an effect on how we think, talk and act about migration

Although breaking down terminology might not seem important, this course has really highlighted to me how language can shape and influence our perception of reality and of what is going on in the world around us. Thus, the words we use to talk about migration, in particular displacement, have an effect on how we think, talk and act about migration.

As a rehabilitation professional I understand now that I have a role in changing how we talk about displacement, I have the capacity to influence how my colleagues talk about migration and displacement and have an important role to play in supporting individuals I work with who have experienced displacement – in accessing services, both in terms of healthcare services and in signposting them to other support.

Courtland Robinson of Relab-HS from the Johns Hopkins University highlighted to me the broad phenomenon of human mobility – international or internal movement of people, migration, as all encompassing of a whole variety of categories, inclusive of asylum seekers, refugees, stateless persons, and many more. The numbers of people in the world today affected by displacement is on a scale much larger than I was aware of, and makes me aware that within my work I encounter people who have experienced displacement on a regular basis.

The portrayal of displaced persons within the media was one highlight of the course for me

Recognising the numbers of people affected by displacement has been important to me, and being able to find data related to my own country was hugely important, which highlights that as a whole migration into Ireland is on the increase, with increasing numbers of displaced persons arriving in Ireland, including significant numbers of displaced Ukrainians arriving in the last 6 months, which have created some challenges for many in accessing services, in particular housing, education and health care. The portrayal of displaced persons within the media was one highlight of the course for me, and has really gotten me thinking and questioning what I read and see in the media. 

Global Context for Displaced Persons Course

Course 2: Health and Well-Being for Displaced Persons

Given the increasing numbers of displaced persons within my country, I have been considering the implications of healthcare access and been thinking a lot about health and wellbeing. Certainly Course 2 on Health and Well-Being for Displaced Persons highlights many of the determinants of health and factors that are impacting on displaced persons when settling in to a new country or new area within their own country.

In considering health and wellbeing I have been looking at the context within Ireland, both in terms of legislation and support structures and I am dismayed by the approach that is commonly taken here, with families sometimes living in one room, with no privacy and limited access to facilities that support family living – and in reading more and talking to individuals I work with who live within this system, I acknowledge more than ever the impact of these living conditions on mental health.

Health and Well-Being for Displaced Persons Course

Overall the MOOC so far has given me a lot of food for thought, it certainly reminds me to question what I see and hear in the media, and encourages me to talk more about displacement with my colleagues, and consider how we can better meet the needs of individuals affected by displacement. It has also made me more aware of the current legislation impacting on displacement, both with my own country but also of international legislation.

I am hoping that the next course on Communication and Trauma Informed Care will help guide me as I look at my own service, and consider access to rehabilitation services and the communication needs of displaced persons I work with. I hope it has presented you with some opportunities to reflect on your own work context and where rehabilitation services currently sit for displaced persons. 

This post was written by Naomi O’Reilly the MOOC manager at Physiopedia.

This work is supported by the USAID funded Learning Acting Building for Rehabilitation in Health Systems (ReLAB-HS) project and is not possible without the generous and committed contribution of the Leahy War Victims fund.

ReLAB-HS is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is implemented under cooperative agreement number 7200AA20CA00033. The consortium is managed by prime recipient, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.