In the calm, relaxing environment of The Vic’s Zen Den lies a piece of paper full of positive, encouraging comments. Each comment reflects a staff member’s gratitude for both the Zen Den, a new area designed to help staff decompress while working throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and The Vic’s new Well-being and Resiliency Project.
“The idea of the Resiliency Project was really about staff empowerment and self-care,” says Corine Poirier, the Patient-Client Relations Officer at The Vic and a member of the Health and Wellness Committee. “We needed to do a little bit more to ensure […] staff were being supported, so that they in turn could continue to care for and support patients.”
Through generous contributions to The Vic Foundation’s COVID-19 Critical Response Fund, the Committee designed a six-week Well-being and Resiliency Project to support the physical and mental health of The Vic’s staff during the pandemic. Poirier says the pandemic has taken a toll on everybody — The Vic’s staff included — so she devised a way to improve morale and build resilience.
“No one could have predicted [the impact of] the pandemic,” she says. “Our usual coping strategies were kind of thrown out the window.”
Poirier and the Health and Wellness Committee chose six themes related to self-care and resilience. Each week focuses on a different theme to improve the overall health and wellbeing of staff.
“After six weeks, staff will have some great resources available to them,” she says. “We’re seeing that staff are using the tools and talking about the things that we’ve brought up and that The Foundation supported.”
The first week focused on hydration. The second week addressed the importance of adequate rest. Each week is meant to reinforce the skills and tools staff need to cope with added stress during the pandemic.
“I hear and see people talking about feeling supported — about being very thankful for the resources and the information,” Poirier says.
Poirier says staff love the program. She checks the Zen Den every day to ensure there are ample supplies for staff, and she sees the incredible impact the program has made.
“They’ve actually loved every week that we’ve had so far,” she says. “Every day I have another staff person stop me, […] thanking us.”
The Vic Foundation fully funded the program, purchasing the many items used to improve the wellbeing and resiliency of staff. Items include wall-mounted Bluetooth speakers for the Zen Den, water bottles, stress balls and sleep masks.
The program has almost reached its end, but Poirier says it will have a lasting impact.
“I think it helps build the confidence that we will get through this,” she says. “It has lifted a burden in knowing that there are tools and people and resources available [...], that we're not doing this alone, that we take the health of staff, and again, the psychological, emotional, physical health very seriously.”
Poirier says she feels a sense of teamwork and connectedness at The Vic right now, and that it reminds her of this quote:
“When this has passed may we say that love spread more quickly than any virus ever could, may we say this was not just an ending but also a place to begin.” — Christine Valters Paintner