ONJ Centre staff member puts a face to the mask!

Face masks are the necessary accessory of 2020.

But as we’ve all found out, they make it very hard to tell exactly who you’re talking to.

Colleen Berry, a Radiation Therapist at the Oliva Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre, has come up with a simple solution. Badges.

Colleen is making badges for her colleagues that have a photo of their face to help patients connect with the people caring for them.

"I’ve had medical appointments myself over the last few months and have missed the physical connection that comes from being able to see people’s faces," Colleen said.

"And, at work, once I put on a mask and face shield, it feels like a barrier goes up. I’m really conscious of the impact this might be having on our patients.

"I had access to a badge maker that I’d used before at a local fete so we got some materials together and staff brought in photos of themselves that could be used on their badge.

"Staff pin the badge to their uniform so the patient can see a face even when the real life version is hidden under a mask.

"People have really embraced the idea which has been so nice to see," she said.

Colleen works as part of the Radiation Oncology team that sees up to 60 patients per day at the ONJ Centre.

"Even among the staff, it’s hard to read each other’s faces and know when people are smiling so I can only imagine how our patients feel,” she said.

"We started with just a few staff from our team but now others from different teams are asking whether they can have a badge too.

"We’ve got almost 20 staff around the ONJ Centre wearing the badges and the number keeps growing.

Wearing a mask is such an important part of stopping the spread of COVID-19 but hopefully the combination of a mask and a badge is providing some comfort for our patients,” Colleen said.