Well-Being on Wheels

February 14, 2019
Each month, Lawrence General offers a wide variety of wellness classes, workshops, and educational activities designed to promote a culture of self-care and well-being.

Organized by Elizabeth Delgado, a project coordinator in the Marketing/Communications Department, with input from the Wellness Committee, these activities range from yoga, massage, and Reiki sessions to classes focused on weight loss, healthy eating, and financial planning.

“Staff love our wellness offerings, but there are many who can’t take part because they’re just too busy,” says Elizabeth. “They rarely get a free minute to leave their unit and, unfortunately, wellness and self-care often become an afterthought.”

Enter the Wellness Wagon. Piloted this past summer on Hamblet 2, Pediatrics, and in Radiology, the Wellness Wagon is intended to deliver a moment of “me time” directly to the busy frontline staff members who need it most. This includes not only clinical staff, but also Environmental Services, Facilities, Security, and anyone else who stops by. The wagon currently visits five inpatient areas every Wednesday, and the goal is to expand into additional units over the year ahead.

“We want to make self-care and resilience tools more available to staff so they can take better care of themselves and, in turn, take better care of our patients,” explains Elizabeth.

Managed by Elizabeth, Dawn Cushing from Quality and Patient Safety, and Brenda LeBlanc from Volunteer Services, the Wellness Wagon visits each unit for 20-30 minutes, providing free herbal tea (coffee is deliberately not offered), healthy snacks (usually fruit, granola bars, or mixed nuts), soothing music, aroma therapy, inspirational quotes, and healthy recipes to all comers. Staff can also sign up for a complimentary 10-minute Reiki healing session.

“These are people who work hard all day taking care of others, but rarely take time for themselves,” says Dawn. “The Wellness Wagon is a way to say ‘thank you’ and show that they are valued and appreciated.” After an initial three month pilot period, the Wellness Wagon officially went live last October, adding Hamblet 5 and the ICU to their rounds earlier this winter. To date, 1,015 people have been served and 48 Reiki sessions conducted. To measure and monitor staff response, the team also conducts surveys on each unit they visit.

“The feedback we are getting has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Elizabeth. “Staff look forward to our visits and say it forces them to take a break and catch their breath.”

Funded by book and uniform sales hosted by Volunteer Services, as well as the hospital thrift shop and departmental donations, the Wellness Wagon aligns directly with the hospital’s broader Annual Operating Plan focused on improving workforce engagement.