September 10, 2020

Grab a virtual coffee with a colleague and ask: R U OK?

Today is R U OK Day, a national day of action when Australians are reminded that every day is the day to ask, “Are you OK?” if someone in your world is struggling with life’s ups and downs.

R U OK Day at Northern Health started with a Grand Round talk on the ‘Pandemic of Kindness Movement’, presented by A/Prof Jane Munro, Head of the Rheumatology Unit at The Royal Children’s Hospital.

Jane is passionate about the wellbeing of her colleagues and staff working in medicine and health care. Along with some of her colleagues nationwide, Jane set up the ‘Pandemic Kindness Movement‘.

The Movement is aimed at supporting and enhancing the health and wellbeing of all health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also focuses on spreading kindness and supporting clinicians and health care workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but also on improving health care through culture change, encouraging leaders to look after their teams, and colleagues to keep an eye on each other’s wellbeing.

“For R U OK Day, the key is to think of wellbeing every day, to be generous and kind to others and also kind to yourself, and making sure you get your basics covered – getting enough sleep, enough sunshine each day, and trying to do something each day that makes you feel good. This is different for everyone. If you are working in a COVID-19 ward under PPE and struggling, do something that you know will make you feel good – it might be good food or hugging your dog when you get home, or doing simple stretches,” she said.

During her talk, she mentioned a couple of times that, “we are in the same storm, but not in the same boat,” and that different life and personal circumstances, as well as different professional roles and personalities, will impact on how we deal with the pressure of the pandemic.

“Everyone is different. For example, I have three kids who are all home schooling and won’t be back to school any time soon. Other people are living on their own, and they haven’t had a hug for six months. That is why this bubble concept is really important for them. Others might be caring for someone with a serious illness. There are so many stories, that is why we need to think how to sustain ourselves and maintain our human connections,” she explained.

Our OHS & Wellbeing team agrees that keeping in touch with others and your colleagues, no matter if you are working from home or onsite is essential to your wellbeing. That is why all staff at Northern Health are encouraged to set up a virtual coffee with a colleague via Teams or telephone, and talk about not just work, but also about every day life and help share the load.

“Staying connected to people is an important part of looking after your mental health. You don’t always have to speak to colleagues for ‘work reasons’. Give someone a call or a Teams chat to check in on them,” said Will Halpin, Director OHS & Wellbeing.

A fantastic rest and recovery session is also on offer this evening for all staff – Jo Gibbs from Treat Healthcare will be holding a 45 min relaxation and mindfulness session at 7 pm.

To join the session, please click here (MS Teams link).