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Caring for the carer

Identifying strategies for improving engagement, wellbeing and retention of healthcare professionals

Regional hospitals are currently experiencing skills shortages in many health occupations while facing decreasing employee engagement, wellbeing and high employee turnover.

In a research partnership with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD), the reasons for these are being identified by a team led by Associate Professor Mario Fernando of the UOW School of Management, Operations and Marketing.

The partnership started from a pilot project funded by the Faculty of Business. In a subsequent Global Challenges grant, the researchers found employee engagement at three regional hospitals was influenced by individual attributes, such as emotional wellbeing, and job satisfaction, more than organisational support systems.

These issues were more acute in ‘at-risk’ units: emergency, surgical, and intensive care departments.

To apply their findings, the team identified specific strategies hospitals could implement to improve engagement and wellbeing. To test these strategies, the team developed a simulation model to promote wellbeing in healthcare and three online wellbeing interventions.

“We expect the final simulation model to help emphasise ‘Caring for the Carer’, and assist healthcare professionals to function more effectively in disruptive work settings,” Associate Professor Fernando said.

“The development of the three online wellbeing interventions by Dr Shamika Almeida are targeted to promote wellbeing by self-regulation, and mitigating stress and anxiety.”

The researchers hope to soon have a more developed simulation model and a suite of online wellbeing resources for healthcare professionals made available in local hospitals, and to be able to further build on the collaboration by securing additional research funding.


Partner organisations

Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District
University of Lancaster, UK
University of Melbourne
Wollongong Hospital

UOW participants

A/Prof. Mario Fernando, Dr Shamika Almeida, Dr Albert Munoz, Dr Sim Lau, A/Prof. Peter Caputi

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