Supporting Staff Wellness at St. Boniface Hospital

27 February, 2023 | St. Boniface Hospital

After an incredibly stressful few years, and amidst ongoing challenges within the health system, St. Boniface Hospital (SBH) is exploring new ways to support the wellness of its staff. “In the 2021 employee survey, we clearly heard staff say that health and wellness is an area where they’d like more support,” explains Alicia Ali, a Workplace Wellness Consultant with SBH. “The hospital executive felt that it was important to respond to this need and has made it a priority. We want everyone to feel safe, healthy and supported at work.”

Ali admits that there are both challenges and opportunities in the realm of health and wellness. “We already know that our staff are working long hours and giving their all to their patients and their colleagues,” Ali continues. “Where can we find the time and the best ways to engage with folks? And how can we help in all the areas of wellness, such as physical activity, lifestyle, stress management and nutrition?”

Alicia Ali

Luckily, Ali is not alone in figuring out how to move forward. Besides the support of hospital leadership, a workplace wellness committee has been formed with 23 members from across the hospital. They’ve decided to create three subcommittees to work on stress management, health and lifestyle education, as well as wellness and gratitude.

While many ideas are still in infancy, the staff-led committee has begun to compile possible ways to make a difference for their colleagues. “For stress reduction, we’re considering mindfulness strategies and safe spaces to talk,” continues Ali. “For health and lifestyle, we’re thinking about walking groups, or workshops about nutrition. We’re trying to find activities that will make a real, practical difference to staff.”

While SBH is a healthcare facility, managers aren’t always sure what to do to support staff through mental health difficulties, which can be a deeply personal experience. “Breaking the stigma of mental health continues to be a priority,” shares Ali. “So we’ve begun by getting over 110 of our leaders certified in mental health first aid. We know that we need each other more than ever, and having the skills required to properly support one another is one way of helping those connections happen.”

“The pandemic has impacted everyone, but especially those in healthcare,” concludes Ali. “It can be hard to do this work, so this is really about improving employee moral and wellbeing, both on an individual level and within the workplace. We’re not back to ‘normal’ yet and we may never be, and that’s why wellness is so important: we can all relate to this need to feel connected, safe and supported.”