A multi-faceted self-care program (TREAT) is feasible and well accepted by healthcare workers in a large metropolitan health service

Joanne Gibbs1, Jo McKenna2, Paris  Venner2, Jennifer Tang3, Jarrel Seah2, Chris McLoughlin2, Harry Gibbs2
1Treat Healthcare, Melbourne, Australia, 2Alfred Health, Melbourne, Australia, 3Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

Background: Occupational stress has adverse physical and psychological outcomes and is common in healthcare, particularly in emergency departments (ED). Occupational stress is reduced by staff change including exercise, meditation and dietary change, and organisational change, including favourable rostering, workload allocation and staff support. Health services should facilitate these to support staff welfare.
Methods: AlfredHealth is a metropolitan health service employing over 8000 staff. Therapeutic Relaxation and Enhanced Awareness Training (TREAT) is a staff wellbeing program for enhancing self-awareness, self-compassion, resilience and engagement provided to AlfredHealth staff. TREAT uses mindfulness meditation, movement, education and other modalities, tailored to individual departmental need. TREAT is complimented by a free mobile meditation app which has guided mindfulness meditations focusing on health care situations.
Results: 1052 staff undertook TREAT between 2015 and 2017. 100% of surveyed respondents found TREAT beneficial in the workplace. 97% wanted to participate in further sessions. The majority felt better able to cope with workplace stress and conflict. 93% reported TREAT improved the experience of working for AlfredHealth and 93% believe other health services should offer similar programs.The mobile app was released in January 2017. At July 2017 there were 3296 downloads, with 174 active weekly users and 78% returning users. 95% of app survey respondents reported improved well-being and 79% better coping at work; 100% would recommend it to others. A survey of ED staff undertaking TREAT, showed high levels of enthusiasm for work and enjoyment of working with colleagues, however, most respondents reported feeling emotionally drained after a shift, difficulty in relaxing and experienced muscular aches and pains. 100% reported that TREAT was beneficial through learning to relax at work, being more aware of self and appreciating management acknowledgement of staff demands.
Conclusion: ED staff experience significant occupational stress. TREAT has good staff acceptability and reduces self-reported stress.

Jo Gibbs is a registered nurse with qualifications in mindfulness, yoga, aromatherapy and massage therapy. She developed Treat, a multi-faceted self-care program, to assist healthcare workers manage the demands and stress of modern hospital practice. Treat has been offered to Alfred Health staff since 2015 with over 1000 staff attending. Treat was a finalist in the Minister for Health’s Award for Improving Workforce Wellbeing and Safety at the Victorian Public Healthcare Awards 2017.