allied health team
(L to R): Catharine Duncan, Lyndsey De Souza, Sarah Currie, and Joanne Pun led the creation of a resilience plan for the Allied Health Department at the Princess Margaret, which features monthly wellness activities. (Photo: UHN)

The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Allied Health team encompasses a broad group of health professionals dedicated to health and healing for the mind, body and spirit of patients.

In addition to supporting patients with their physical and emotional well-being, the interprofessional team, which includes groups such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists, dietitians, respiratory therapists and spiritual care, came together to create a plan to support their own workplace wellness.

Led by Lyndsey De Souza, Sarah Currie, Joanne Pun, and Catharine Duncan, a resiliency plan was created with monthly wellness activities for the Allied Health team, including this month's Labyrinth Walk (a walking meditation with Spiritual Care) to mark October as Healthy Workplace Month.

"Sarah, Joanne, and myself all attended the Princess Margaret Retreat back in April, which was all about building resilience, and we all thought it was such an interesting focus to have for the year," says Lyndsey, an occupational therapist.

"As healthcare professionals we know we can experience caregiver burnout. It's important to recognize we need to look after ourselves as well in order to provide our patients with the best possible care."

The plan involves one session per month. The team worked to build it around their department meetings, along with alternating between Tuesdays and Wednesdays on the third week of each month. That ensures the plan supports a variety of schedules.

Building program around the talents and skills of colleagues

"We chose the activities for each session by leveraging the talents and abilities within our own team and around the organization," says Sarah, a physiotherapist. "We have members of the team who are trained yoga teachers who were willing to lead a session; we learned about resources across the organization at the Princess Margaret Retreat that we could tap into.

"It's nice to have a plan completely built around the talents and skills of our colleagues."

In addition to a yoga session, the plan also includes sessions on mindfulness, music therapy, healthy eating, and a department potluck.

"I think taking 10 minutes out of the regular work day just to focus on yourself really helps you feel refreshed and have a new set of eyes and outlook on things," says Joanne, a dietitian. "We all know it's important, but often we don't take the time."

Adds Catharine, Physiotherapy Practice Leader: "It's a defined time to say, 'Ok I have this in my schedule and I should do this for myself.'

"Hopefully we can inspire other groups at the cancer centre to look within their teams and utilize each other's skills and abilities to push forward on their own plans."​

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