Contributed by Rita Den Otter, Island Health.

What do you do at Island Health?

I’m the Executive Director of Experience. My role is to develop the strategy and action plans for improving the experience of our providers, which includes our staff, physicians, volunteers, and learners, as well as the experience of our patients. Our belief is that by reconnecting Island Health employees with that spirit of why they began working in health care, then that spirit will make a difference in the experience that they have with our patients and our communities.

What led you to get involved in Change Day BC?

For me, Change Day BC was really about that sense of experience and belonging. I liked the fact that people could make a contribution, and it doesn’t have to be a big fancy change; anybody can make a change, and it will add to the collective good. If we have lots of people making lots of little changes, and teams that work together in making a change, then all those actions will accelerate the relationships that we have with each other and our sense of being a community.

What are some pledges that stood out to you?

There were lots of pledges that stood out to me. I saw lots of pledges that were related to getting out and walking at lunch time, or moving around more. And a lot of pledges about spending a day in their patients’ shoes, or talking with patients to get to know them. I saw staff and leaders saying they wanted to meet with people on other sites. They were all great pledges that showed that individuals could make a change on their own.

And what did you pledge for Change Day?

I made two. One pledge was to really participate in this “Good News Friday” that we do in our office, by finding an item of interest that I thought would help celebrate the fact that there is good work that’s going on.

I’ll also share inspirational messages amongst my team. I do that if I know people need a little pick-me-up—I send them a little note that says, “Thinking about you, maybe this will help.” Or “I know you’re working on this, here’s something that might be related.” I often hear back from people who say, “This was so timely, thank you.” It doesn’t take long, but for me it reinforces those relationships.

So much of what I hear about from our patients are about incidents where they feel we didn’t do things well. It’s easy to start to focus on feeling like we don’t do anything right, instead of recognizing that in the vast majority of times, we do things really well. It’s important to focus on the things we can improve, absolutely, but if we can do that from starting from a point of saying, “This is what we do really well,” then I think it’s easier for people to be motivated and interested in making a change.

Celebrating that work was something I was thinking about before Change Day, but making it a pledge made me much more accountable, because it was up on the wall.

What was your second pledge?

The other pledge I made was to get out and walk a few times a week. I don’t always do it at lunch, but I do try to exercise every day. And when I don’t get out at lunch, one thing I do is when I go to the washroom, or get up out of my office, I take the long way around. My office is on the 3rd floor, so I go to the furthest bathroom, head to the basement, and then cross back to the stairway. That way I’m doing stars a few times each day. It does make a difference- just doing that little circuit.

The thing I like about going out for a walk is that it clears my head, and when I come back to my office, I’ve often got a different perspective. Or it’s reminded me of something else. And I sleep better at night, because I’m not waking up thinking, “Oh no, I’ve forgotten about something!” And I’m not as tired at the end of the day.

It sounds like those two pledges are connected in a way, because they’re both about doing things that allow you to be a positive and balanced colleague. 

Yes, they are connected. And that’s what I want to be- I want to be a positive colleague. I don’t want to be someone who is always saying I’m too busy, I don’t want to be seen that way. I want to be someone who has time to listen and help people think about out how to make things better.