Wellbeing & Support Update – 31 July

July 31, 2020

Welcome to your latest Wellbeing & Support update.

I’d like to start by saying a big thank you. This is a difficult time characterised by increased pressure, uncertainty and worry. I’ve seen first-hand the exemplary work being carried out right across Western Health, and I’m so proud to work alongside you.

Today’s update covers a few topics we know are of concern to you.

Physical Wellbeing and Hydration

It’s important to think of your general health and immunity, particularly during this challenging period. Please make time to:

  • ‘Switch off’ on a daily basis
  • Exercise
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat well – increase fruits, vegetables, proteins and fats, and avoid processed food
  • When wearing additional PPE as we are these days, please ensure you are appropriately hydrated:
    • Drink a lot of water prior to shift and on breaks
      Limit dehydrating fluids like soft drinks, tea, coffee and alcohol
      Have ‘watery’ foods for lunch like salads, soups and fruit
      You might also benefit from purchasing a good quality electrolyte formulation.

Break Spaces and marquees

We have erected marquees at Footscray and Sunshine sites as alternative spaces for employees to take breaks. You are encouraged to take time away from your ward/work space and use the marquees or outdoor spaces (when weather permits) during your break times. At Footscray Hospital the MacArthur Room is also open for breaks 24/7. Entry is via the door in the foyer to café, and via the café itself during trading hours.  We ask you to wipe down surfaces you have used during your break with the wipes available.

Grief and Loss – Dealing with Patient Death

As the number of COVID-19 cases rise across the State, many individuals are witnessing significant losses. This unfortunately is not something that is new to healthcare professionals. Whilst workers may expect themselves to be able to easily manage the events that result from hospital experiences, the reality can be a little more complicated, particularly when it comes to patient death. Healthcare workers may find that their reactions are heightened at this time due to the cumulative experiences of stress/distress being felt within the healthcare system. Individuals may find themselves reacting differently from how they would in the past. This is not surprising and is a commonly shared experience.

People cope with grief related to patient death in a variety of ways; whilst some people might prefer to talk openly about their experience, others may prefer some alone time. Others may prefer to just ‘get on with the job’. Below are some tips to cope with grief:

  • Allow yourself time to grieve the loss of a patient – discuss options for support/time out with the appropriate person in your workplace
  • Talk with others who share a similar experience (e.g., a colleague), but do not compare yourself to others and their responses to patient death
  • Take care of your physical health
  • Maintain normal sleep patterns or get plenty of rest even if you can’t sleep
  • Practice relaxation activities, such as mindfulness
  • Participate in enjoyable activities/hobbies
  • Ask for help if you need it

Refer to the Grief and Loss resource to learn more, and also refer to our pastoral care services information and booklet http://inside.wh.org.au/departmentsandservices/PastoralCare/Pages/default.aspx

Accessing your Employee Assistance Program

Western Health is committed to continuing to provide psychological support via Caraniche at Work. We have counsellors on site at Sunshine and Footscray on Tuesdays and Fridays as of 3 August. Counselling is also being conducted by phone and video, and can be booked via email, phone or by making an online booking enquiry:

Click here to make a booking enquiry

Send your enquiries to work@caraniche.com.au     Or call on 1800 099 444

A reminder: EAP is now available for members of your immediate family.

Kindness Matters

Williamstown staff witnessed a lovely act of kindness this week when they received a stunning bouquet of flowers sent in by a past nurse colleague who wanted to acknowledge the great work we are doing in this pandemic and to brighten our day.

We need to rely on each other to get us through the next phase. We are all tired and digging deep, so we ask you to remember to be kind and to look after each other. We are all in this together!

 Lessons from Pooh

We all process grief, stress and worries in different ways. While talking through concerns with a friend or counsellor may be helpful for some, please be mindful that some of your team members may prefer NOT to talk. If that’s the case you can still be there for them:

“Today was a Difficult Day,” said Pooh.

There was a pause.

“Do you want to talk about it?” asked Piglet.

“No,” said Pooh after a bit. “No, I don’t think I do.”

“That’s okay,” said Piglet, and he came and sat beside his friend.

“What are you doing?” asked Pooh.

“Nothing, really,” said Piglet. “Only, I know what Difficult Days are like. I quite often don’t feel like talking about it on my Difficult Days either”.

“But goodness,” continued Piglet, “Difficult Days are so much easier when you know you’ve got someone there for you. And I’ll always be here for you, Pooh.”

And as Pooh sat there, working through in his head his Difficult Day, while the solid, reliable Piglet sat next to him quietly, swinging his little legs…he thought that his best friend had never been more right.

AA Milne



On behalf of Suellen and the Executive Team