Governance Organization

SHS – Sunnybrook Medical Services Alternative Funding Plan Association

Project Title

SHS-21-002 – Social Support, Tracking Distress, Education And Discussion Community (STEADY) Staff Wellness Program: Mitigating Post-Traumatic Stress Injury in Sunnybrook Staff During COVID-19

Project Highlights

The STEADY Staff Wellness Program was implemented in 10 units across Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (SHSC) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Program implementation was guided by the Knowledge to Action (implementation science) Framework. Programming was iteratively and flexibly adapted over time based on healthcare worker feedback and STEADY facilitator observations to address barriers to implementation and tailor programming to the specific needs of each target unit.

Program uptake varied between STEADY program elements, across units and over time. STEADY gained organizational traction and support over time; Participation increased when: 1. Sessions were delivered in-person (vs remote), 2. Peer Champions were involved in running programming or encouraging participation from their home unit, 3. Programming occurred within the target unit, and 4. Trust was built between facilitators and target units.

Program successes include:

– Delivery of over 300 peer support group sessions (Date and number of attendees was logged, as a proxy for feasibility and acceptability, and qualitative field notes were recorded by facilitators; Data analysis is underway),

– 2500 Staff Wellness Assessments completed, with over 650 tailored responses sent to more than 500 healthcare workers

– 10 gratitude trees posted around the organization, providing staff an opportunity to reflect on things they were grateful for in challenging times.

– Requests for support from over 15 additional units (beyond the 10 target units) from managers, staff and senior leaders across the organization, based on word-of-mouth recommendations.

– Training interprofessional SHSC staff in Peer Support Facilitation (n=26) and Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (n=44), in collaboration with the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario and Ornge Air Medical Transport Operations, respectively.

Between group (participating “STEADY units” versus controls) MANOVA comparison of longitudinal Wellness Assessment scores will be conducted. Though this data will offer interesting insights on staff wellbeing and psychosocial needs over the course of a pandemic, findings will not necessarily reflect program impact, due to a large number of confounding variables. In the absence of other evaluative measures of program impact, qualitative comments and feedback that were offered spontaneously over the course of programming were collated. Participants reported feeling uplifted, supported, empowered, and validated. There was virtually no negative feedback. In fact, organizational funding was secured to extend programming from the planned 6 months to 8-12 months per unit due to program success and demand from participants and other staff. In granting this funding, leadership acknowledged that “STEADY was extremely important for Sunnybrook.” The project team was asked to hand over STEADY to the organizational Wellbeing@Sunnybrook committee to continue the program.

To-date, we have presented this project at both the 2020 and 2021 Conferences of the Academy for Consultation Liaison Psychiatry (oral presentations), the CQUIPS+ 2021 Conference (poster presentation) and the University of Toronto Department of Psychiatry Continuing Professional and Practice Development Day. STEADY was also presented as part of a Disaster Psychiatry Canada Webinar, and we have given invited presentations to multiple groups at Sunnybrook, other TAHSN hospitals, Toronto North Support Services and the Provincial Health Human Resource Community of Practice.

Next Steps: The project team will advise and support the organizational Wellbeing@Sunnybrook committee in continuing the STEADY program. Additional funding was acquired to translate STEADY program psychoeducation workshops into interactive electronic modules, to increase accessibility for Sunnybrook staff and beyond (project ongoing). Based on the success of this quality improvement project, we are applying for research funding to adapt STEADY to increase sustainability and scalability of the program, using lessons learned during the current project to support program upscaling, and to evaluate program impact.


Mental Health and Well-Being

Primary Project Lead for Contact

Janet Ellis


Secondary Project Lead for Contact

Rosalie Steinberg


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