During the month of April and May the partners of Council of Coaches performed a risk assessment and discussed mitigation measures of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Council of Coaches project
Broadly speaking, the major risks for the Council of Coaches fall in the following four categories:
Final Demonstrator (proof-of-concept evaluation study)
The social distancing measures impacted the final exit-interviews that had to take place over the phone instead of face-to-face, and therefore the first round was finalized with relatively minor impact. For the second evaluation round, recruitment, and inclusion will happen online and additional effort was needed to streamline the application and preperation of manuals to ensure end-users will be able to successfully “enroll themselves” which was also a good test drive for the Council of Coaches application.
Besides the practical issues related to performing the proof-of-concept demonstration in an online setting, the social distancing measures have an impact in the promotion of “healthy lifestyles” for our older adult target population. i.e, we promote people to go outside and meet people in a time where they should stay indoors and isolated. In order to mitigate this, we have started to adjust the provided coaching content, pointing out the need for social isolation above all else. However, since the main aim of the evaluation is to proof the potential viability of the Council of Coaches concept, we believe these goals can still be met.
All remaining workshops are beeing organized to take place in an online setting and have a good potential of achieving their objectives in an online setting.
Planned end-user engagement activities
The restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have an impact on such end-user activities, as planned lab-based studies cannot take place for the near future, and switching to online evaluations formats is challenging but we are also preparing for online scenarios.
Since access to lab-equipment is very limited, e.g. universities are completely locked, some software engineers have reduced accessibility and therefore productivity working from home, as well as the limited ability to have face-to-face meetings to effectively solve technical difficulties, an overall impact on the progress of technical developments is expected but we are building creative measures to overcome them.
Our mitigation strategy at this moment in time is thus focused on implementing creative measures to continue our ongoing efforts towards (1) finalizing the ongoing proof of concept evaluation, (2) performing additional small-scale end-user studies, (3) performing stakeholder engagement through workshops, and (4) continuing our technical work towards an open-source virtual agent platform. We will keep evaluating the situation and the progress within the project, where our overall joined objective is to finalize the project within the original timeframe