...staff wellness is not just about promoting joy but is also about creating a safe and respectful workplace where staff look forward to going to work every day.
Managing stress and adapting to changes are undeniably, two key areas that have grown in importance at the workplace since the onset of the pandemic two years ago. The cluster-wide Joy at Work initiative, set up to look at long-term strategies to boost staff well-being through creating an environment for finding joy, and meaning and purpose at work, has rolled out several programmes and events since its inception to benefit staff.
Part of its long term mission involves strengthening the social support system within SingHealth through promoting a culture of mutual respect, peer support programmes and staff counselling services, work-life harmony policies, and education efforts to empower staff.
Institution Wellness Officer
Since August 2022, 12 Institution Wellness Officers (IWO) have been appointed to support the development of SingHealth’s strategic priorities for staff wellness. These IWOs form part of the SingHealth Wellness Council, and will work closely with other members and internal stakeholders in fostering a robust workplace wellness culture and positive workplace environment through the development and execution of well-being programmes and initiatives.
"At NHCS, Nursing has been at the forefront of driving the Joy At Work programme with many initiatives rolled out in support of the larger mission of staff wellness. Moving forward, these programmes will also be offered to the entire NHCS family as we spread the message of 'wellness for everyone'. At the cluster level, we can also expect exciting new activities such as a staff wellness day with coffee and ice cream in the next few months!” said NHCS IWO, Assoc Prof Chin Chee Tang, Chief Risk Officer, and Senior Consultant, Department of Cardiology. He also mentioned however, that staff wellness is not just about promoting joy but is also about creating a safe and respectful workplace where staff look forward to going to work every day.
Caring for staff who care for others
Indeed, NHCS’ Joy@Work (JAW) Nursing Workgroup has seen its reach expanded from the initial nursing-focused programmes, to collaborative efforts with various departments such as ‘Mindful Hour’, facility enhancements to staff areas in the wards, and materials for better management of staff abuse and harassment. The most recent initiatives to spin out from the team are training programmes focusing on mindfulness* and self-defense.
“What prompted us to look into such programmes was simple – it is important to care for staff who care for others, such as those who are constantly engaged in high stress activities,” shared Chua Lee Kheng, Assistant Director, Nursing, who is also the chairperson of NHCS JAW Nursing Workgroup.
The art of self-defense
‘Containment of Aggressive Situations’ started off as a nursing-focused course in 2017, aimed at empowering staff with personal protection concepts and skillsets to contain aggressive situations to keep themselves and others safe. It took a pause and restarted last October with more streamlined content. Having received positive feedback, the JAW Nursing Workgroup which had been keeping a keen eye on the needs of clinical staff, later worked with Human Resources to introduce the course to all NHCS staff from January 2023.
A structured course on mindfulness targeting staff with additional job roles requiring higher levels of perception and deeper communication with others, such as that of NHCS Peer Supporters and ICU Care Rounds facilitators, was carefully designed to meet the purpose of the programme – empowering staff with skills of self-awareness through adopting a secular psychological approach to becoming aware of one’s perception, stress triggers, reactive habits and communication style.
Tan Boon Cheng, NHCS Peer Supporter and Master Medical Social Worker, shared, “The course helped paradigm shift our way of thinking by bringing unconscious to the awareness, and looking beyond the tip of the iceberg. The principles of mindfulness and practical skills taught were especially useful tools to help navigate and see challenges from a more positive perspective. Additionally, the sharing of personal experiences by participants were enriching as we could learn from one other and know that we are not alone in what we are experiencing.”
Assistant Nurse Clinician Zeng Wenying who conducts mindfulness sessions for NHCS nurses, shared, “The tips shared during the class are useful for those who are new to the concept of mindfulness and wish to enhance their sense of self-awareness to communicate with others better.”
*The course is made possible through the philanthropic funding from the Lim Suh Fen Cardiovascular Research & Education Fund. Suitable staff will be nominated for the course.