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SHA Wellness Committee hopes to inspire others

Jan 13, 2023

Categories: News

Our partners at the SHA are sharing the success of a committee that is improving the lives of members

Pharmacy professionals enjoy an event in Regina's Wascana Park. (Submitted by Kirsten Tangedal)
Pharmacy professionals enjoy an event in Regina's Wascana Park. (Submitted by Kirsten Tangedal)

A group of Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) pharmacists and pharmacy technicians is working to make life better for its employees, and members are hoping its success will encourage others to do the same.

The SHA Regina Area Pharmacy Department established its Living Well Committee in September 2020. Its focus is on environmental sustainability, both in the workplace and at home, and pharmacy workers’ overall wellness (for example, areas like occupational and emotional wellbeing). After a survey was done to see which issues should be prioritized, the committee set about promoting and advancing initiatives to make progress in those areas.

On the environmental side, the committee has spearheaded numerous efforts to reduce the use of both single-use plastics and paper. To cut back on single-use plastics: 

  • A donation drive was held to obtain reusable cutlery and dishes in their break rooms;
  • Instead of sending medications to the wards in plastic bags, the committee moved to paper bags;
  • Recycling bins were brought in to collect plastic syringe tips and casings, taking them out of the waste stream;
  • The team reviewed existing recycling practices, ensuring only proper materials went into recycling bins and removing plastic bags (which cannot be recycled);
  • The committee has reached out provincially to Nutrition and Food Services, requesting environmentally friendly packaging for cafeterias;
  • And, one of the timeliest initiatives, surgical masks are now being collected after use, and are now being diverted to TerraCycle, where they are recycled into new plastic and fiber products.

For paper use reduction strategies, interventions included:

  • Each pharmacist conducted internal reviews on paper usage and revamped processes to be less reliant on paper;
  • They have ceased printing monitoring forms and daily reports, and changed to faxing and emailing patient communications instead of mailing paper;
  • Implemented interventions like changing to automatic double-sided printing and changing to electronic formats for many medication lists.

Wellness initiatives both inside and outside the workplace

Multiple initiatives have been implemented to improve occupational wellness in the department, including the creation of a local newsletter. This platform highlights the achievements of individuals in the department, brings everyone closer together in an increasingly-virtual world, and communicates wellness tips and other topics. The committee also hosted a fun Christmas-themed Jeopardy game in December of 2021 to bring people together virtually. Most recently, a virtual art contest was held to showcase the talented individuals in the department and encourage sharing and connection with colleagues.

The Committee has also reached outside the workplace to interact with the community. This has resulted in: 

  • Sharing the committee’s progress on a national level at the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacist’s Together Conference in 2021 via virtual poster presentation;
  • Completing multiple donation drives for deserving organizations (including food for the Regina Community Fridges, personal hygiene items and clothing for the Infectious Diseases clinic patients, and snacks for Thomson Community School);
  • Making a wellness challenge bingo card that could be shared on social media;
  • Creating a virtual running/walking club via Strava;
  • And hosting a photography field trip to a local park. 

The SHA Regina Pharmacy Department Living Well Committee is looking forward to continuing to implement wellness initiatives both internal and external to the pharmacy department in the future, and encourages other departments to consider starting up their own local wellness committee. 

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