Emergency Department Physician Dr Una Harrington knows first-hand that supporting patients in hospital can be stressful and demanding work, which is why she leads QEII’s Wellness Interest Group.
“Working in the ED can be the best job in the world. We work within a fantastic, multi-disciplinary team. However, we often see patients on their 'worst day ever'. Sometimes when the work-load is high, the resources are limited and because we want to give the best care we can 100% of the time, it can be a stressful job too,” she said.
"In response, three years ago we formed a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, administration officers, and allied health practitioners to work together to promote general wellbeing strategies and start a conversation around wellness in ED.”
Dr Harrington said the group has since launched a number of key initiatives to support colleagues.
“On Mondays we receive about 10 percent more patients than we do on any other day and staff don’t often get to take a break, so to counteract some of the stress of this influx in presentations we run a staff resuscitation trolley on that day,” she said.
"The trolley offers healthy snacks for staff at 3pm and that allows us to provide them with food at the shift changeover time for morning and afternoon staff. We also do Fruit on Fridays where we give out free fruit, organise Delta Therapy Dogs for staff and patients, and promote mindfulness practice in the ED.”
Dr Harrington said the group’s activities are strongly aligned with Metro South Health’s ICARE2 values.
“While giving someone a muesli bar on a Monday won’t fix everyone’s problems, it’s a small and regular thing we can do to show colleagues we care about each other and that then translates into how well we do our jobs.
"We work in a tight-knit team in ED, not in isolation, so keeping the team well is important if we are to produce good patient outcomes,” she said.
For information on how to set up an ED staff wellness trolley Dr Harrington recommends consulting WRaP EM website.