West Park Healthcare Centre reaps benefits of workplace quality improvements

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West Park Healthcare Centre is reaping large dividends from investing in workplace quality improvement – creating not only a safer, healthier environment for staff and patients alike, but also attracting attention outside of the West Toronto hospital.

In November, West Park won two distinctive awards recognizing the hospital’s workplace and worklife practices.

West Park, a Rehabilitation and Complex Continuing Care hospital, was named a 2011 GTA Top Employer and also received a Quality Healthcare Workplace Award (QHWA) – Gold.

The 2011 GTA Top Employer award recognized West Park for its employee development, support and benefits. Educational opportunities, alternative working arrangements, and exceptional maternity/paternity benefits were all highlighted in the award.

This is the first time the Centre has been selected as one of the Greater Toronto Area’s Top Employers, a local version of ‘Canada’s Top 100 Employers.’ In the selection process, judges recognize employers with forward-thinking programs and progressive human resources policies and practices.

The Quality Healthcare Workplace Award (QHWA) – Gold is sponsored by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care – HealthForce Ontario and the Ontario Hospital Association and recognizes organizational efforts to improve the healthcare workplace in ways that contribute to the quality of work life for healthcare providers and the quality of care they deliver.

The QHWA panel identified outstanding features at West Park including a participatory ergonomics project designed to reduce employee musculoskeletal disorders, a recognition program for staff, physicians and volunteers who exemplify West Park’s values, and the recognition of quality of work life in the performance appraisal program.

The most recent improvements in West Park’s workplace and worklife resulted from its Human Resources Strategy 2009-2012, which was informed by focus groups and surveys of staff, physicians and volunteers that examined many quality of work life indicators and assessed health, wellness and workplace behaviours. Staff across the Centre was engaged in reviewing survey results, identifying opportunities for improvement and implementing solutions.

Feedback from these surveys helped West Park to identify four strategic priorities including: attracting and developing top talent; promoting high functioning collaborative teams, cultivating and nurturing a trustful, values-driven work environment, and creating a healthier workplace.

West Park also adopted a new Strategic Plan in September 2009 which identified “Be(ing) a great place to work” as an overall priority of the Centre.

The Centre also became the first rehabilitation healthcare facility in Ontario to sign the Healthy Healthcare Leadership Charter – underscoring West Park’s continued commitment to a quality workplace and maximizing the health and wellbeing of its staff, physicians and volunteers.

West Park’s commitment to a healthy workplace also drew the attention of Accreditation Canada surveyors during a November site visit as part of the Centre’s 2010-2013 accreditation. The high value West Park places on workplace improvement; open, respectful communication; and staff engagement in decision-making and many other principles drew high praise in the surveyors’ preliminary report.

West Park’s President and CEO, Anne-Marie Malek, says the recent awards are a great honour for the Centre.

“These awards are a tribute to the efforts of managers, staff, physicians and volunteers in continuously improving the work environment,” she said. “But the greatest reward from our efforts is the improved worklife of our staff, physicians and volunteers and how that ultimately improves the care we provide our patients,” Malek added.