Morning sunlight pours through windows at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, inviting guests to take a break to focus on their health. A team of six nurses from the UCHealth Outpatient Infusion Clinic, still dressed in scrubs, are eager to spend an afternoon learning about wellness, nutrition and fitness.
They are here for Caring for the Frontline, which AHWC launched six months ago. The program, originally intended to address nurses’ daily stress and challenges, has since given 20 teams of nurses and healthcare professionals at CU Anschutz the tools to manage their health, wellness and nutrition. Although still in its pilot stage, the program is expected to become a regular AHWC offering and will likely expand to faculty and staff.
Lisa Wingrove, RD, CSO, has overseen the program’s development and credits its success to being offered at the AHWC rather than in the workplace, as the separation helps foster teambuilding and self-care. “The program is offered off-site at the Wellness Center and helps address team needs, especially in times of change, stress or burnout caused from the job,” she said.
Half-day of wellness
Participants begin with lunch, giving them time to bond as a team while sharing a healthy meal together. They then learn practical mindfulness techniques from a clinical psychologist.
But teambuilding is not the only outcome of Caring for the Frontline. Self-care is a major theme addressed during the half-day of wellness, where participants learn how to manage stress and take time out of their day to care for themselves.
A private one-hour yoga class is another part of the program, as well as a 10-minute massage. Finally, participants learn how to cook healthy meals, including recipes that are fast and simple that can be cooked during the week.
“We make recipes easy and affordable to show participants that healthy nutrition is attainable, and we show them how to cook recipes that are realistic, fast, taste good and budget-friendly that can fit within their busy lives,” said Wingrove.
Wingrove incorporates gratitude into every session. Before the team’s arrival, cards are shared with the nurses’ leadership and each session begins by giving the hand-written cards to each team member to show them that they are acknowledged and valued. “Demonstrating gratitude is important,” she said. “Receiving thanks makes everyone feel valued.”
Creating positive impacts
Caring for the Frontline has had a positive impact on participant’s lives, offering them support and resources and demonstrates the value of teamwork and practicing gratitude. “This program made me feel valued as an employee because my team thought enough to invite me,” said one participant.
The program teaches participants how to take care of themselves, which is essential to ensure they provide quality service to others.
“Taking care of themselves is essential if they are taking care of others,” said Wingrove.
Additionally, Caring for the Frontline shows participants the importance of self-care, urging them to take time out of their day to practice what they learned. According to one participant, “[I learned] how important it is to take time for myself, and that really 20 minutes of breathing, mindfulness or cooking a healthy meal is doable in that timeframe.”
Guest contributor: Katherine Phillips