Thanks to the help of a generous sponsor, we’re continuing to support the well-being of the compassionate healthcare staff in the palliative care unit (Unit 9Y) at the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre through a program that supports their mental health and helps them thrive at work.
Third Thursday Thrive is a program that started in 2016 and has recently received a new sponsor, local law firm Reynolds Mirth Richards & Farmer LLP. Every third Thursday of the month, the program provides lunch for Unit 9Y staff and gives them a safe space to enjoy one another’s company while talking about their experiences. The program engages staff to increase positive outcomes for patients and families, increase satisfaction with the care experience and reduce sick time for staff.
The two chaplains dedicated to the palliative care unit help facilitate the program by engaging in conversation with those who attend the monthly event.
|“We try to connect with staff relationally and just leave space for them to talk about whatever it is that they want,” explained Wenda Salomons, one of the chaplains on Unit 9Y. “Some staff will just grab their lunch and go because that’s the kind of space they need and other staff will stay to talk.”
Wenda Salomons, chaplain
The multi-disciplinary team on Unit 9Y is made up of various roles including physicians, nurses, social workers, cleaning staff and healthcare aids who work together to provide comfortable and compassionate care for patients needing end-of-life care. Working in a setting where they experience a lot of loss can affect healthcare workers in a unique way.
“In palliative care, the staff really get to know the patients,” explained unit manager Lisa Shirley. “They make that connection with both the patient and the family, walking with them and having to say goodbye.”
Lisa said the desire for a program like Third Thursday Thrive really came from the staff who experience those personal journeys alongside the families of their patients.
“There was an overwhelming call from the staff that we needed an opportunity to come together for some dedicated time where we can just sit down, take a breath, be present in the moment and really look at this as an opportunity for self-care.”
Not only does the program provide staff with opportunities for self-care, but it also helps them build community with co-workers they may not see regularly during their busy work days.
“There is community building and you can see that happen,” said Wenda. “I think it’s incredibly beneficial, particularly for this unit where a sense of community is critical to providing good care and to maintaining a healthy balance at work.”
The staff who attend Third Thursday Thrive events appreciate the opportunity to de-stress and appreciate good food and conversation with their colleagues and the chaplains.
Kirstin Kapach, social worker Michael Wright, registered nurse
“It’s a good place to get together, have some good conversations and unwind for a minute from the hustle and bustle of the unit,” explained social worker Kirstin Kapach.
Registered nurse, Michael Wright, agrees. “I think it’s nice to just relax and take a break from your role and just be you,” he said.
As a new chaplain on the unit, Craig Traynor heard great things from staff about the program prior to attending his first Third Thursday Thrive.
“I think the staff value the opportunity to do team building, to have some support, to get a break from the floor, and to know that there is support here for them if they’re struggling with anything,” said Craig.
Craig Traynor, chaplain
One of the goals of the program is to equip the Unit 9Y team with the tools they need to provide the best possible care for their patients. The idea is that when staff are at their best, they are better able to perform their roles.
“It’s not a stretch to imagine that if you have well-balanced staff who have a place to explore and process their feelings, that they can do a better job and feel more positive about the community that they work in,” said Wenda. “All of that is optimal for providing care for the patients here.”
|The exceptional care the staff on Unit 9Y provide is appreciated by the families who witness it firsthand. Healthcare aid Orvelyn Pascua has experienced many instances where families of patients she has cared for remember her name and thank her during chance meetings in public. She recounted, “They remember the good care we provided their loved ones and we’re grateful to hear it when they recognize that.”
Orvelyn Pascua, Healthcare aide
The program’s sponsor recognizes the amazing work of the team on the palliative care unit and is grateful to be able to provide support.
“Reynolds Mirth Richards & Farmer LLP is honoured to support the Third Thursday Thrive program at the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre,” said Christine DeWitt, the director of client relations with the law firm. “We believe in the importance of self-care for the physicians, staff and volunteers working in palliative care. We want to recognize their tremendous efforts, which are essential and important to our community.”
The staff certainly appreciate the support of the program, too, with registered nurse Michael Wright expressing, “It means a lot that people still think to do something like this for us.”
Chaplain Wenda Salomon expressed her gratitude as well, saying, “Thank you so much to the foundation and Reynolds Mirth Richards & Farmer LLP. Your support is substantial and a demonstration of commitment to the unit and to the work that’s being done here.”
Sandwiches provided by Reynolds Mirth Richards & Farmer LLP for Unit 9Y staff through Third Thursday Thrive
Written by: Kate Dawson
To provide support for specialized programs such as Third Thursday Thrive, please visit our online donation page.