Cheese toasties behind wellbeing initiative for RPA’s theatre staff
A pilot wellbeing initiative for staff who work in RPA’s operating theatres is based on a simple idea – the love of a cheese toastie.
“Given the nature of our work, it’s often hard for staff in hospital operating theatres to leave to buy food or to take regular breaks to eat,” Dr Anand Rajan, a specialist anaesthetist at RPA, said.
So Dr Rajan, a member of the RPA anaesthetic wellbeing team, in consultation with his surgical, theatre and anaesthetic colleagues plus the staff wellbeing team at MDOK, devised a new campaign called #TheatreToastie.
“During the pandemic, there’s been an understandable rise in stress and anxiety amongst health care workers at RPA. We wanted to take immediate action to improve their wellbeing.
“One simple way to achieve this is to meet their needs in the way of basic food.
“It’s a tangible, accessible and inexpensive way to show RPA’s theatre staff that they’re being supported by the hospital,” he said.
Under the six-month pilot that’s being funded by MDOK, several sandwich presses have been placed in the RPA theatre staff room. And, the hospital’s Food Services team supplies fresh bread and cheese throughout the week.
There are 22 operating theatres at RPA and up to 200 people, including surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and support staff work in the theatres every day.
“The #TheatreToastie initiative is part of our broader strategy to improve both the nutrition and morale of those working in theatres,” Moneisha McKenzie, Director of
Physical Wellbeing at the SLHD WellMD Centre, said.
“It will allow theatre staff quick and easy access to food and will also reinforce the importance of staff taking a break to rest, reflect and recharge,” she said.
The initiative is supported by head of anaesthetics: anaesthetist Dr Michael Paleologos, heads of surgery: orthopaedic surgeon Dr Paul Stalley and colorectal surgeon Dr Peter Lee, and the theatre Nurse Manager Stella Pillai.
“It’s the ultimate comfort food. Who would think something as humble as a cheese toastie could make such a difference?” Stella said.
“But, it’s one of the best things that’s happened in theatres. It demonstrates to staff that someone cares about them and helps them to feel appreciated,” she said.
Her views are echoed by others too.
“I think the toasties have really been welcomed by staff members. They have enforced a sense of community and appreciation while also keeping our bellies full,”
Roumel Valentin, an anaesthetic provisional fellow, said.
Gastroenterologist Ken Liu added, “This is a great initiative as often I am eating on the run and have no time to get any hot food.”
While Registered Nurse Jennifer Morcom said, “The toasties have been delicious and have definitely added some smiles to our faces. Many thanks to MDOK for funding them. I’m sure they will continue to brighten our days at work.”
Dr Rajan’s hopes the initiative results in long-term benefits.
“It is our aim that #TheatreToastie contributes to an improvement in staff wellbeing, a reduction in stress, and an increase in job satisfaction,” he said.