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Toronto Rehab – Bickle Centre nurses on the Special Care Unit have a new favourite morning ritual. Jackie Boyce, registered nurse, describes the impact of "Special Care Morning Stretch and Exercise"and how it works. (Video: UHN)

Since 1981, Jackie Boyce has been caring for patients as a registered nurse at Toronto Rehab's Bickle Centre for Complex Continuing Care – and she couldn't be happier.

So, what's her secret?

According to Jackie, it's a supportive team, staying energized on-the-job, and striking a healthy balance between work and home life.

For the past year, Jackie and her fellow nurses on Bickle Centre's Special Care Unit – who care for patients who require assistance for most or all of their needs –  started " Special Care Morning Stretch and Exercise,"  a wellness initiative to kick-start their mornings.

The initiative came out of UHN's Employee Engagement Survey, which saw a need for an action plan to enhance wellness and team building at work.

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Image of Jackie Boyce
"I wanted to become a nurse for a long time because I love to care for people," says Jackie. "I like to be an advocate for families and help their loved ones maximize their health and well-being". (Photo: UHN)

Three tips for staying active and energized while at work this summer

  1. Mini breaks: Don't underestimate the value of taking 30 seconds for a few deep breaths or a quick walk. Taking time to recharge your psyche is vital to a productive work day.
  2. Get outside:  Take advantage of the warm weather and spend time outdoors on your break or at lunch. A bit of sunshine can help you feel refreshed and break up your daily routine.
  3. Social wellness: Get your team together for a social event or invite your office buddy to lunch or coffee. Take the opportunity to have some fun at work and build team engagement.​​

"Thirty-five years ago, wellness wasn't really on the radar," says Jackie.

"But as we get more and more patients that are increasingly complex, it's important to incorporate personal and team wellness to accommodate this challenging and physical environment."

After their huddle every morning, the nursing team takes five minutes to exercise and stretch, with a rotating nurse leading the activity every day.

UHN's Wellness team agrees that taking time – even five minutes out of the day – to focus on improving overall health and well-being can have many benefits for both employees and employers. A healthy organization translates into a more productive and resilient workforce.

"We spend so much of our waking lives in the workplace, so there is a great opportunity to have a significant influence not only on the health of the individual, but on team dynamic," says Paul Smits, Wellness Coordinator at UHN.

"Increasingly in the healthcare environment, we are being asked to do more with less, so providing employees with the tools, resources, support, and a culture of well-being is key to fostering happy and healthy employees."

Team stretch
The nurses on Bickle Centre's Special Care Unit take five minutes every day to exercise, stretch and energize together before taking on the challenging task of caring for complex patients. (Photo: UHN)​

The nurses on Bickle Centre's Special Care Unit are proof of this philosophy and they hope other teams will feel inspired to pursue wellness in the workplace.

"I would definitely recommend it to other units looking for a fun and healthy activity to do together – it only takes five minutes but it makes such a difference."​​​

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