We had our first international meeting in Madrid in February 2020 which was really useful to plan the project and get to know the team. Unfortunately, then the COVID 19 pandemic hit Europe and resulted in travel restrictions so we had to cancel the remaining of our planned international meetings. These face to face meetings would likely have made it easier to achieve consensus and have more in depth discussions on the final contents of the guides. We had also planned joint sessions in the pool to further develop the activities. We were disappointed not to be able to have these face to face meetings but luckily we were still able to use various communication tools like zoom and skype to collaborate.
The other big impact that COVID had is that our pool in Dublin had to be closed. We were never able to reopen our pool as the pump failed and needed to be replaced as well as some other repairs. As a result, we were never able to complete interdisciplinary sessions in our own pool or try out the BeWater protocols.
It was challenging only being able to communicate with the other teams via email and virtual meetings due to language barriers and the usual technology hiccups. We also had challenges in accessing shared materials due to the restriction of third party apps following the Irish cybersecurity attack. We found that differences in the healthcare services and models of practice in the different countries made some things easier to translate and apply in the Irish setting than others.
However, overall we found the whole experience very valuable. It was interesting getting to know our partners in Madrid and Madeira and finding out more about how they work as well as getting ideas for materials and resources for intervention.