Wellbeing & Support Update – 18 September

September 18, 2020

Welcome to your latest Wellbeing & Support update.

Last Thursday 10 September was RU OK? Day, the national day of action when Australians are reminded that every day is the day to ask, “Are you OK?” This day triggered a reminder for all of us to check in with each other. We all know that 2020 has been a challenging year on both a personal and work level and therefore it is even more important for us all to stay connected and, reach out to our families and friends to ask if they are ok but also to know its ok to let them know how you feel.

You don’t have to be an expert to keep a conversation going when someone says they’re not OK. By knowing what to say you can help someone feel supported and access appropriate help long before they’re in crisis, which can make a really positive difference to their life and yours.

Importantly, we can have these conversations with a colleague or a friend at any time, not just on RU OK? Day.

Learn what to say after RU OK?

Positive Workplace Staff Care campaign

Many of you are will be feeling the effects of constant change and requests to do things differently, changes to PPE guidelines, and the way we communicate with our patients and colleagues.

We want to acknowledge all that you do and thank every one of you for your tireless hard work – everyone at Western Health, no matter who you are, contributes to the provision of Best Care.

Our community knows they are in the safest possible hands when they walk through our doors. Thank you for giving up time with your family, and for not giving up even when things are hard. Western Health staff are not just essential, they are exceptional.

Watch this space for a thank you coming your way very soon. It’s just a small way to recognise your hard work, dedication and commitment this year, and it’s our way of reminding our staff at Western Health that they are “not just essential”. You’re exceptional!

Responding thoughtfully and deliberately when we’re tired and exhausted?

Have you recently had the experience where prior to going to bed at night you put a plan together for the next day, allocating specific time to focus on important priorities as well as dealing with the never ending to do list, only to have this disrupted and gone awry within the first hour of arriving at work?

A short time after you arrive at work, unexpected challenges that require urgent attention start to happen and before long you are starting to feel frustrated that you haven’t been able to stick to your plan and starting to get anxious about the work that is piling up. You are tired and grumpy, and, in a meeting or an interaction with a colleague you are find yourself getting irritated about the approach a colleague is taking and without thinking you jump in with a sharp comment. Your colleague reacts defensively and immediately you feel that this is not going the way you had hoped. You both walk away feeling frustrated and annoyed with each other.

The above describes an invisible drama that is unfolding inside us all day long at work, most often outside our consciousness. When we are tired and under pressure we tend to operate from our defensive self, one that seizes control anytime we feel under perceived threat or danger. It is in these moments that it can be helpful to become a keen self-observer.

If you notice yourself experiencing emotions such as impatience, frustration, and anger, it is a signal that you may be sliding into your defensive self. When this happens, it can be helpful to stop, breath and put the pause button on. Sometimes simply naming these emotions as they arise can be an effective way to gain some distance from them. Take a moment to reframe and think about how you can respond in a way that is more helpful to you and others. It is by self-observing and catching ourselves in these moments that we can then make deliberate rather than reactive choices about how to respond in challenging situations.

A good place to start is to find a colleague you trust to be your accountability partner, and to seek regular feedback from one another. Finally, it can be helpful to shift your perspective by asking yourself a) “What else could be true here?” and b) “What is my responsibility in this?” By asking yourself these questions you are reducing the likelihood of confirmation bias i.e. instinctually looking for evidence that supports your point of view. By looking at your responsibility, you are resisting the instinct to blame others and focusing on what you have the greatest ability to influence – your own behaviour.

If you observe negative behaviour in others, start with kindness and check in with them, they could be struggling and just need someone to take some time to ask them how they are and if they need some support.

Adapted from “Great Leaders are thoughtful and deliberate, not impulsive and reactive” by Tony Schwartz and Emily Pines HBR (2019)

Coping with patient death

Healthcare workers may find that their reactions to the loss of patients are heightened at this time due to the cumulative experiences of stress/distress being felt within our healthcare system. In the July update we provided you with coping strategies and today we are pleased to share two videos featuring Sacha McDonald, Manager, Pastoral Care. One video is focussed on support for you as a staff member (14:05) and the second gives you some tools to help support patients and their families (10:32). You can also find these videos on the Wellbeing and Support page of the microsite.

Manager Support by Caraniche at Work

Manager Support is a confidential coaching service that is available for all Western Health Managers, Team Leaders and Supervisors. The service can support you with:

  • Strategies for supporting your team
  • Understanding and managing difficult staff
  • Organisational change and its impact on your people
  • Mental health impact and understanding
  • Providing effective feedback

You can access Manager Support Monday – Friday, between 9am – 5pm on 1800 099 444.

Click here for more information about Manager Support.


Suellen Bruce

On behalf of the Executive Team