Promoting Workplace Wellness at Runnymede Healthcare Centre

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Physical and mental wellbeing have a considerable impact on daily life. Despite this, most people allow their health to take a backseat to the demands of work and home life. Runnymede Healthcare Centre recognizes that health and wellbeing are vital to the success of the organization. As a result, the hospital actively promotes a culture of wellness that supports physical fitness, mental health and preventative care.

A recent Staff Satisfaction Survey found that over 83 per cent of Runnymede staff are satisfied with their job, a statistic that speaks volumes about the various support systems for physical, mental and social wellbeing that are in place for staff at the hospital.

“Creating a culture of diversity, empowerment and leadership has been integral to our success at Runnymede”, says Connie Dejak, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our annual Staff Satisfaction Survey provided a unique insight into the workplace environment that has evolved within our hospital as a result of this culture.  Over 80 per cent of our staff indicated that they have established a work-life balance, feel supported in ongoing learning and development, and are satisfied with the organization.  These results are meaningful as staff satisfaction enhances retention and promotes better health outcomes for patients.”

Promoting and maintaining the highest degree of health in the workplace is a top priority. To encourage healthy lifestyle choices and physical activity, Runnymede staff are invited to take advantage of reduced cost gym memberships at a number of facilities across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), as well as participate in organizational events, such as the 2012 Summer Olympics and the annual Step Challenge.

Organized by Runnymede physiotherapists to mark National Physiotherapy Month, the event promotes healthy living by challenging participants to walk 10,000 steps, eat 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables and 2-3 servings of milk or alternatives each day over a 15-day period. In September 2012, over 150 participants and 25 teams at Runnymede took part in the sixth annual Step Challenge, taking over 2.4 million steps as a group, which is equivalent to 1,830 kilometers. Events like these not only inspire enthusiasm to exercise and eat well, they also incite employee participation and strengthen teambuilding.

While physical fitness is important, Runnymede also makes it a priority to foster mental health. Recently, the Mental Health Commission of Canada noted that one in five Canadians—many of whom are in their early working years—experience a mental health problem or mental illness in any given year.

To assist employees suffering from a mental health-related issue, the hospital offers a comprehensive Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through Shepell FGI, an organization that specializes in delivering integrated health and productivity solutions that underscore the importance and value of employee health in every sector of business. Available to all staff and their immediate family members, the EAP offers a wide variety of resources on relationship management and addressing workplace challenges, as well as confidential counseling for addictions and dealing with trauma or crises.

Shepell FGI also host a number of on-site “Lunch and Learn” sessions at Runnymede that cover a range of topics, including managing stress and maintaining a positive outlook. In November 2012, staff attended Making Time Work for You, an interactive workshop that provided staff in attendance with easily applicable time management strategies for daily use.

In addition, Runnymede Healthcare Centre makes preventative care a focus through injury prevention strategies, such as daily stretches that can be done at a desk, and its employee vaccination program. Last year, over 82% of staff members received a vaccination against the influenza virus, significantly higher than the 64% of healthcare workers in Toronto that received the immunization during the last flu season, according to Toronto Public Health.

“The benefits of having healthy, happy staff members are endless,” says Larry Florou, Senior Director, Human Resources. “In addition to enhancing morale and increasing productivity, promoting wellness in the workplace leads to less health-related absences, as well as a decrease in workplace accidents and employee injuries.”

For instance, in June 2012, the hospital’s frontline Registered Nurses (RNs) developed the Quality Nursing Environment Safe Transfer and Repositioning module, a video-based project demonstrating evidence-based leading practices on manual patient transfers and repositioning. Following the rollout of this educational initiative, the number of musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries among clinical staff decreased by 75 per cent from the previous year.

By encouraging staff to focus on healthy behaviours, like increasing physical activity, minimizing injury and managing stress, Runnymede Healthcare Centre can continue to make significant strides in building a culture of wellness at the hospital.

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