March 15, 2023

Wellbeing is paws-itively all about you 

Therapy dogs Scout, Leo and Larry provided comfort and cuddles to our hard-working staff as part of Delta Therapy Dogs Paws the Pressure Program.

In late 2021, the Victorian Government provided health services with funding to implement initiatives aimed at improving the psychological and physical wellbeing of employees. The Northern Health All About You Initiative commenced in September last year, which recognised there was a no ‘one size fits all’ approach to improved wellbeing, with priorities and daily challenges varying amongst teams.

This initiative provided each team an opportunity to consult their staff and select a wellbeing support to suit their area across two categories: psychological supports and staff rest and recovery spaces.

One of the requests received from staff was dog therapy. Staff from Ward 4, Clinical E Dialysis, Day Oncology, Ward 15 and Speech Pathology were greeted with wagging tails and big smiles from the pups as Leo, Scout and Larry lapped up the attention.

The Paws the Pressure Program aims to reduce stress and promote wellbeing by providing calming cuddles and friendly ‘paw-shakes’.

Many Northern Health teams expressed interest in refreshing their outdoor rest spaces. With the reduction of COVID-19 restrictions, the desire to share and eat together while on break and enjoying the fresh air was a key wellbeing priority.

Carol Setaro, Administrator for Community Therapy Services, said, “It’s wonderful. With over 30 seats for staff to enjoy fresh air on their break, it’s going to be very much enjoyed by all.”

Connecting with nature was also valued by our mental health teams, who requested more plants across all sites.

Carlotta Martinello, Carer Lived Experience Program Manager at NorthWestern Mental Health Service, said plants have,helped to brighten up the space considerably for staff and consumers.”

On-site massages were also enjoyed by many teams to reduce physical tension and create a relaxation experience for teams including our Emergency Department and the Wellbeing Team. Other requests granted included meals and refreshments, psychological training/support sessions, artwork, a hydrotap for a staff kitchen, coffee machines, sensory lamps, freezers and a massage chair.

“We are proud and impressed with the creative ideas submitted by teams, and hope that these carefully chosen resources will support their long-term wellbeing and add some small pleasures to the workday,” said the Wellbeing Team.

Applications are now closed with some existing applications still to be processed in 2023.

The Wellbeing Team would like to thank everyone who has supported the running of this initiative including Supply, OHS, Finance, Engineering, Accounts Payable, Communications, Operations managers, Two Hands Massage and the Delta Society.

Staff interacting with Leo, Scout and Larry
Northern Health staff enjoying their wellbeing support, including new furniture, office plants, massages, cathartic support and a hydro tap.