At the Center for WorkLife Wellbeing, we are wholly focused on helping caregivers at ChristianaCare and throughout the nation flourish by fostering WorkLife meaning, connection and joy.
Our journey began with the experience of one physician and her successful effort to reclaim her joy after an unforeseen adverse event. At the time, Heather Farley, M.D., led ChristianaCare’s stand-alone Emergency Department. On what began as a routine day, she cared for a patient, and, following the standard of care, discharged the patient from the ED. On the way home, the patient died.
Her spirit shattered, her confidence shaken, Dr. Farley contemplated giving up medicine. Working with an executive coach empowered her to get out of a dark place and thrive as a physician, leading ChristianaCare to establish the Center for Provider Wellbeing in 2016.
At first, the program focused on attending physicians, residents and other healthcare providers. In 2020, the mission expanded to the Center for WorkLife Wellbeing. This dynamic concept encompasses everyone who works on the team, from the nurse at the bedside to the housekeeper who changes the sheets, because we are all part of a team doing our best to serve patients.
The good news spread and the center began helping other organizations to build cultures where colleagues feel joy and connected to meaningful work.
Dr. Farley, ChristianaCare’s first Chief Wellness Officer, leads a team of experts dedicated to helping workers thrive. Dr. Vanessa Downing, the center’s director, is a psychologist and an expert in burnout, compassion fatigue and resilience. They speak nationally on the center’s groundbreaking initiatives.
Supporting a healthy workplace matters for everyone. When we care for ourselves we are better able to care for others, resulting in decreased medical errors and increased patient experience scores.
Care for the Caregiver, a network of more than 50 trained peer supporters, ensures that everyone who needs it has access to a sympathetic listener. OASIS (Opportunity to Achieve Staff Inspiration and Strength) rooms located throughout the health system provide a place where colleagues can decompress and refresh their spirits. Residents can share concerns and ice cream at stress-busting, joy-building educational events.
We listen intently to colleagues’ thoughts, insights and ideas. Our groundbreaking research helps us to identify caregivers’ concerns, as well as interventions that succeed in reducing burnout and enhancing joy so that we can develop robust, effective programs and contribute to best practices.
Within our team, we practice what we share. We start each meeting with a mindfulness exercise. A no-meeting policy on Fridays ensures everyone gets a break. We do huddles. We care for each other and support one another in sharing the load so everyone feels rested and balanced.
It’s a culture change that reflects ChristianaCare’s core values of Excellence and Love, our promise to deliver high-quality care every day with respect and compassion. To that end, we are partnering with organizations beyond our walls to spread our message of meaning, connection and joy in the workplace.<./p>