Easing holiday stress for hospital staff

It’s the most wonderful time of the year; it can also be the most stressful. With gift-giving, cooking, family dynamics and parties, the holidays can add a lot of stress to an already busy life. And for hospital staff who will be working over the holidays, it’s also time away from family.

Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care has many programs in place to help our employees through times of stress including a psychological health, safety and wellness committee, campaigns to promote civility and respect, education on mindfulness and dealing with change, and a robust employee and family assistance program with a variety of offerings. But this year, we thought we’d try something new and offer an in-house shopping experience to ease a little of the gift-giving stress.

The Holiday Pop-Up Market was held over two days in December and featured more than 25 vendors, providing an opportunity for staff, patients, volunteers and community members to get some of their shopping done and bring a little fun into the workplace.

In lieu of a fee, vendors made a donation to the hospital in support of our patients, making it a great opportunity to raise some much needed funds and grow our network of supporters.

In addition to the Pop-Up Market, the Waypoint Research Institute was offering coffee, cake and information about a new research study looking at trauma experienced by mental health care providers, and ensuring those with who have experienced trauma in the workplace receive timely support to return to work.

The research will examine workplace events associated with trauma at psychiatric hospitals. It will also examine barriers to accessing supports to prevent and alleviate trauma symptoms and help build workplace plans to reduce trauma and encourage psychiatric workers to seek help. This study is funded in part by Ontario’s Research Opportunities Program, which supports projects that improve occupational health and safety for workers across the province and create better workplaces for all hard-working people in the province, and is being conducted in collaboration with The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research.

While there was a lot of buzz over the two days about how the market brought about the spirit of the season, there was one more feature designed to really share what the giving season is all about. On both days, staff, volunteers and patients were invited to a special presentation by Waypoint Social Worker Barry Law, who shared his story of life with ALS. Titled On the Other of the Table, he shared his message of life, hope and the importance of the work of healthcare providers. Barry discussed what it’s like to make the transition from someone who provides care to someone who now requires care. He is a positive, compassionate and inspiring person and during the season of giving and gratitude, his message was an important one for all of us to hear.

The overwhelming positive feedback from vendors and shoppers alike speaks to the success of the event, and to the need to continue to plan innovative and exciting opportunities to engage staff and support them while they care for others.