“It’s a beautiful place to work, and I love my job.” Over the past few years, working in health care has been challenging, to put it mildly, which makes Gwynneth Mwashusha’s statement about Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) all the more remarkable.
Mwashusha is a licensed practical nurse and community care manager at VCH’s Richmond Community Health Access Centre, one of 120 health care centres it operates across the region. As a single mother raising a daughter and a son, she appreciates the freedom of movement she’s had in the 17 years she’s worked there.
“Vancouver Coastal Health has allowed me to work in many different roles,” she says, “and if I need to change roles, I can do it within the organization. Right now, working in community health allows me to avoid shift work, which means I can do things like go to my daughter’s soccer games. My family comes first, and they seriously understand that.”
Taking care of everyone, including staff, is one of VCH’s core values, along with continuous education and improvement, according to Bob Chapman, vice-president for Vancouver Community at VCH. “We have been working on strategies around flexibility and work-life balance,” he says. “We know that a happy work force is critical for quality patient care.”
Chapman also points to town halls, recognition events and a robust employee wellness program as meaningful ways the organization shows its appreciation for employees who worked with dedication throughout the pandemic and went above and beyond to care for evacuees during the recent wildfires.
“When you’re asking people to be up all night to support people getting off a plane, taking time and recognizing that commitment to care is important. So we sent thank you cards to all the teams who helped relocate patients displaced by wildfires,” he says. “We also made an effort to thank our teams for working through incredible chaos every day during the pandemic.”
Alongside the organization’s core values, VCH has introduced four pillars that focus on its commitment to delivering safe, quality patient care: Indigenous cultural safety; equity, diversity and inclusion; anti-racism; and planetary health.
“We’ve led meaningful education sessions with staff around the pillars, like what it means to have cultural safety in a community,” Chapman says. “Those are things staff are looking for, and they inform the decisions we make and the way we deliver care.”
As a woman of colour originally from Zimbabwe, Mwashusha appreciates the existence of those pillars and how they support an equity-led, intersectional approach to care.
“In our region, it’s important for everyone to learn about Indigenous cultural practices, to understand First Nations communities and how they’ve been mistreated due to racism,” she says. “I think VCH has done well in educating staff about different cultures.”
Mwashusha also values VCH’s other educational and training programs. “There are often new technologies and tools, and you can’t use something effectively if you haven’t participated in education,” she says. “Vancouver Coastal Health is very good at continuous education.”
Chapman emphasizes the fact that VCH’s leaders work closely with staff. “I value that our leaders are on the floor, seeing what’s going on,” he says. “It’s important that we walk the talk and put into motion some of the things we aspire to, so people will see and continue to strive for that themselves.”
Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.