When the aviation industry stopped at the beginning of the pandemic, the airline SAS had 12,000 employees in the Nordic region and quite quickly they were forced to lay off 90 percent of them.

In addition, all part-time cabin crew were out of work, so they were offered a three-day tailor-made introductory training that would make them health care assistants.

More than a hundred flight attendants participated and were then intercepted by hospitals, nursing homes and other care and nursing activities, which were heavily burdened during the pandemic.

- They played a very important role with us during the pandemic and we learned a lot from them in terms of treatment, service and patient focus, says Therése Johansson, operations manager in nursing at Tema Åldrande at Karolinska University Hospital.

Support in patients at the end of life

The SAS staff often functioned as so-called runners, ie they served the regular staff with equipment and other things.

But because they were used to dealing with pressured situations, some medical knowledge, especially in emergency situations and extensive experience of caring for others, they soon became important even in more sensitive parts of care.

Several sat awake, ie were in to support patients in the final stages of life.

- Ordinary staff of course took care of the whole and had the medical responsibility, says Therése Johansson.

But in this way, they could be relieved and focus on something else.

Aroused international interest

Now the project is over;

the urgent needs of care have subsided and most of the participants are in other jobs.

But the initiative has aroused international interest, says Johanna Adami, principal at Sophiahemmet.

Several other airlines have heard of it.

Most have been positive, but there has also been criticism that three days of training is too short for the task.

- Of course, we have had discussions with the unions, says Johanna Adami.

This was not an education that gave any formal title, she says.

But the SAS staff's competence made them really suitable for the tasks.