19. Caring for healthcare workers, a vision for the future (Panel)

Context / Background: Healthcare providers dedicate their lives to caring for the health and wellness of others. But the things that make healthcare so rewarding can also be what make it a particularly challenging environment. Healthcare workers are 1.5 times more likely to be off work due to illness or disability than people in all other sectors. Between the long hours and high pressure, healthcare workers experience higher rates of burnout, compassion fatigue and sleep deprivation. In particular, distress caused by patient safety incidents (second victim phenomenon) can have negative effects on a care provider’s health and well-being and the safety of patient care. If not addressed, the provider may suffer in silence, change their role, or leave the profession altogether. Protecting the mental health of healthcare providers benefits the worker, their patients and the healthcare system alike.

Advancing high quality and safe healthcare is a shared priority between the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. This includes not only safe and effective care for patients, but also the physical and psychological health and safety of those who provide that care. The MHCC has been working with healthcare leaders across Canada to advance psychological health and safety in healthcare institutions. It has undertaken several new initiatives to drive system change to value the mental health of healthcare workers to support quality patient care. CPSI has over 10-years of experience in safety leadership and implementing programs to enhance safety in every part of the healthcare continuum. CPSI is working to increase awareness of the second victim phenomenon and available resources. This includes advancing peer-peer supports for healthcare providers and driving system change to make overall patient care safer. This session will present the progress both organizations have made to date.

Learning Objectives: Participants will:

1.          Gain an understanding of the importance of caring for mental health and wellness of healthcare providers.

2.           Learn from the providers’ perspectives on the future of a more caring healthcare system that cares for everyone within the system – providers, patients, families and leaders.

3.        Increase their knowledge of the ongoing work to support healthcare providers, it’s impact and what is coming next.

4.            Gain tools and resources to create a more caring healthcare organizations that not only benefits staff engagement, well-being and satisfaction, but also translates to safer and more effective patient care.

Outcomes / Results: Leadership lessons in the development of peer-to-peer support programs, the results of a pan-Canadian survey on the second victim phenomenon, as well as a toolkit for organizations to support the development of local peer-to-peer support programs will be presented.

Conclusion: A systems change is needed to address the second victim phenomenon in healthcare. The panel will present how policy makers, regulators, healthcare leaders, care providers and patients all have an important role to play to drive this change.


Ed Mantler – Mental Health Commission of Canada

Chris Power – Canadian Patient Safety Institute

Kelly McNaughton – The Hospital for Sick Kids

Lindsay Goertzen – Patients for Patients Safety Canada




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