A Narrative Inquiry into the Practices of Healthcare Workers’ Wellness Program: The SEED Experience in New South Wales, Australia
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
The 2019–2020 Australian bushfires followed by the COVID-19 pandemic brought the significant mental health implications of working in healthcare to the fore. The importance of appropriate support services to ensure the resilience and recovery of healthcare workers has been highlighted. In response to healthcare staff experiences during the bushfires, the SEED Wellness Program was created in 2020 in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District in New South Wales, Australia. SEED used a participant-led design to engage healthcare staff in workplace-based restorative activities. Guided by practice theory, this study aimed to identify and describe SEED wellness practices that supported healthcare staff. Thirty-three healthcare workers participated in focus groups or individual interviews between June 2021 and March 2022. The analysis involved inductive thematic individual and collective exploration of SEED practices, including co-analysis with participants. Eight core practices that supported participants’ wellbeing were identified, including responsive and compassionate leading, engaging staff at every stage of the recovery process, creating a sense of connection with others, and collective caring. The study found that workplace wellness initiatives are optimised when they are place-based and grounded in local knowledge, needs, and resources incorporating a collective and supportive team approach. Moreover, to ensure engagement in, and sustainability of these initiatives, both bottom-up and top-down commitment is required.
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National Health and Medical Research Council