Mental Wellbeing: A Foundation Priority

Tuesday 24 May 2022

Meet Liz Crowe, the RBWH Wellbeing Officer, proudly funded by the Coronavirus Action Fund.

If you ever find yourself dancing in the supermarket, compiling a playlist that makes you smile, or researching whether fish really do sleep, chances are you are one of almost 500 RBWH staff members taking your wellbeing and self-care very seriously.

The activities were part of a 14-day Self-care Challenge developed by RBWH Wellbeing Officer Liz Crowe. Liz’s position is proudly funded through the RBWH Foundation Coronavirus Action Fund.

“The wellbeing of healthcare professionals (HCPs) is essential to ensure excellence in patient care,” said Ms Crowe.

“Self-care is obviously something everyone is interested in however making it a reality for fatigued health care workers during a pandemic remains an ongoing challenge,” said Liz Crowe.

RBWH Foundation CEO Simone Garske said a spotlight on staff wellbeing had been a major focus for the Coronavirus Action Fund since its inception in March 2020.

“The early focus was ensuring staff were able to access complimentary nourishing meals and the comfort of a free coffee,” said Ms Garske.

“It was evident very quickly though, that psychological support of staff would be paramount as the pandemic continued.”

Liz is an Advanced Clinician Social Worker who comes to RBWH with 20 years’ clinical experience specialising in grief, loss, trauma, crisis and bereavement in children’s hospitals. However, her PhD on staff wellbeing highlighted the importance of staff wellbeing and mental health as key to ensuring optimal outcomes for patients in hospital settings.

So, what exactly IS wellbeing?

When it comes to the workplace, wellbeing is often categorised by six main factors:

• A manageable workload
• Personal control over the job
• Support from colleagues and supervisors
• Positive relationships at work
• Clarity around job description and expectations
• A sense of control of involvement in changes in the organisation.

In addition to the impressive 476 staff who took on February’s 14-day challenge, another 28 staff members regularly participate in the twice-weekly RBWH walking group and 30 have joined the first RBWH book club.

“Strategies to improve wellbeing and resilience help staff manage the complexities and trauma they can be exposed to,” said Liz.

“But wellbeing is not only focused on stressors. It also encompasses improved communication, empathy and engagement, and ways to increase team morale and function.”

Liz Crowe equated the RBWH experience to being on the starting blocks for the 100-metre sprint in an Olympics Games, waiting for the starter gun to fire.

“Health care workers have been on ‘high alert’ for two years waiting for the surge of numbers and while it took two years to actually happen, the fear was real and present every day,” said Liz.

It is not difficult to see how rapid workplace changes triggered by the pandemic, and anxiety around personal safety, could affect a staff member’s wellbeing.

To this end, since starting her role as RBWH Wellbeing Officer in October 2020, Liz has conducted an impressive:

• 360 hours of counselling
• 350 hours of Executive Coaching
• 38 debriefing sessions
• 9 Compassionate Conversation sessions
• 72 in-services, workshops, and lectures to over 2000 staff members

RBWH Foundation is indebted to its philanthropic community for helping fund the RBWH Wellbeing program through support of the Coronavirus Action Fund. Read more RBWH Foundation news here.