Phone: 13 11 14 (24 hours/7 days)
Text: 0477 13 11 14 (6pm – midnight AEDT, 7 nights)
Chat online: (7pm - midnight, 7 nights)
Thank you to everyone across the St Vincent’s family who have dug deep during such a trying period as our COVID-19 response efforts continue. I particularly want to thank our frontline and facility-based staff across our hospitals and Care Services residences who are working tirelessly to keep people safe and well.
There is currently a lot of information circulating across the country and we are doing our best to stay up to date with the changing advice from state and federal governments.
Please continue to stay informed with our latest updates on both the website and our COVID-19 Group on Connect. And for the latest on correct use of PPE equipment, visit our website for guidelines. Please note, it is critical that PPE is not taken without approval.
This site contains all you may need to maintain your health and wellbeing at this time. This guide is the product of collaboration across the St Vincent’s family to deliver informed advice and to better equip you during the COVID-19 crisis. Remember to follow the rules around COVID-19 guidelines and encourage your friends and family to also do so. Please do not come to work if you have any of the COVID-19 symptoms listed in this guide.
For those transitioning to working from home, see the guidelines and tips to set up your home office and stay healthy. If you have concerns about your role and how it has changed at home, please talk to your manager or supervisor.
This is a difficult time for us all, but as I was recently reminded by Sister Clare Nolan RSC, St Vincent’s has responded to a number of pandemics during its 150-year history. In fact, one of the earliest things we did as a part of Mary Aikenhead’s Ministry was respond to the cholera epidemic, and we were the only healthcare organisation in the country to do so.
The word ministry at its very core means ‘the intersection between need and gift’. At this time of pressing need, I can see the gifts, talents and skills of our people rise to meet these needs. Guided by the healing Ministry of Jesus – which is at the heart of all we do – St Vincent’s will remain strong today, will remain strong tomorrow, and will continue to serve all who need us.
We are here for you and we are in this together. It’s the St Vincent’s way.
Thank you all and God bless.
There are a few ways you can stay up to date:
During difficult times it is important to support your mental health and wellbeing. See below some useful tips:
Stick to the facts - COVID-19 has received unprecedented media coverage. Get the facts from reputable sources such as the World Health Organisation and Australian Government websites such as health.gov.au. While this can be helpful, it can also create anxiety. Consider minimising your exposure by limiting time spent online.
Resist the urge to inflate the risk - Inflating risk is part of our fight or flight stress response and is our brain’s way of trying to keep us safe. When you think about it - it makes a lot of sense.
When a situation is big and overwhelming, it gets our attention and forces us to act. Clinicians call this catastrophising. Make an effort to frame how you cope with this new anxiety with the same approach you would use when facing other events that also come with risk.
Connect and Communicate
Connect regularly with your St Vincent’s colleagues and friends during breaks via phone calls, video or video chats. Coronavirus will continue to be a topic of conversation but stick to the facts. Try to minimise your exposure to the news and media at certain times. Create Connect groups or chats to stay in touch with your St Vincent’s family. A few we’ve seen already are: Pets@St Vincent’s Group, Chapel Service @ St Vincent’s Group and #showmeyourhomeoffice. Join the #FeelGoodFriday movement if you want to see some stories shared among the St Vincent’ Connect Community that will give you a smile.
Focus on the people around you, such as family, children, friends and St Vincent’s friends.
Talk about your feelings to loved ones and friends often – do not bottle up your anxieties as they won’t go away.
Talk about other topics with friends, share enjoyable conversations.
Find ways to help others – helping others makes us feel useful, which in turns helps with feelings of helplessness.
When communicating about COVID-19 with children and young people:
Have open and honest conversations.
Relay the facts, in a way that is appropriate for their age and temperament.
Listen to their questions.
Let them know that they are okay and it’s normal to feel concerned.
It is important to remember that feeling anxious, fearful, stressed, angry or irritable are common and normal feelings during uncertain times like these.
We are all impacted in many ways, and depending on your circumstances or perspective, you may experience different symptoms of stress. Many of these are normal responses to what we are all experiencing with the uncertainty caused by COVID-19. It is important to monitor your own physical and mental health. Some signs of stress you may notice include:
Heightened anxiety and/or fear.
Increased irritability and outbursts of anger and arguments.
Difficulty in sleeping and relaxing.
Increase in use of alcohol or drugs.
Having difficulty in communicating or listening.
Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach pains.
Feeling depressed, guilty.
Denying feelings or saying you don’t care.
Confused, difficulty making decisions.
Tips to manage these symptoms include:
Eat healthy food and drink water regularly.
Start your day by making a list of three things you are thankful for.
Focus on consistently implementing personal hygiene habits such as proper hand washing as this is a proven way to minimise your exposure to the virus.
Take long walks and connect with nature when you can.
Practice meditation and mindfulness.
Visit the St Vincent’s Private Hospital Sydney Intranet mindfulness page.
All SVHA employees and their immediate families can access our free and confidential 24/7 EAP service on 1800 818 728. You can also speak with your manager or People & Culture.
The team at Access EAP have put together a few tips to help during a crisis and you can read the full document here.
We acknowledge that St Vincent's healthcare workers are on the front line and under immense pressure at the moment - we encourage you to access support early.
Access the new dedicated EAP Counselling Hotline for healthcare employees here.
Reflective supervision provides an opportunity for you (as an individual or in a group) to debrief with a senior AccessEAP clinical professional and consolidate strategies for coping with the unprecedented demand and challenges you are facing during this time.
Find out more about EAP's reflective supervision services now available here.
Designed by St Vincent's Hospital Sydney. Online courses are designed to help you identify, understand, and improve psychological difficulties like stress, insomnia, worry, anxiety and depression.
Get started here.
Animals @ Home: Live stream of Melbourne Zoo. Watch here.
Take an interactive tour of your favourite parks in the USA. Get started here.
Take a virtual deep dive of some of the worlds most beautiful marine parks here.
Check out street art from across the globe right here.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ‘wisdom from the elders’
In times of trial such as this; it is good to draw on earlier, timeless knowledge.
‘Elder wisdom’ can sometimes be posited as mystical or ethereal. It is recognised as evolved intellectual and spiritual thinking that has higher level significance.
Many of us respect the wisdom gathered via the longevity of individuals and cultures. There is a ‘common-sense’ aspect to this thinking. Elders have been transformed by their wide experiences of joy and challenge across time. More importantly, the elders have moved through these experiences and drawn learnings from them. This is especially true for the wisdom people of many Indigenous cultures, with the experience of moving through sorrow or joy and other experiences shaping moments of transformation and ways of being in the present. The inherited wisdom from such experience is also important for future generations.
Our traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people held this wisdom, though the absence of formalised written languages necessitates assumptions of these experiences and awakenings. Aspects of this intuitive and innate connection to Mother Earth, the sea and sky continue to resonate among their descendants today.
Read, Listen, Be Still…
Seek support on the Reconciliation in Action Group on Connect.
Inclusive Health COVID Commitment
Many of you are rightfully concerned about how COVID will effect more vulnerable people, those who are especially close to our heart because of our Mission. Here is one aspect of our response, to give you hope:
In response to the COVID-19 situation the Inclusive Health Program (IHP) has provided $1.5M to our public hospitals to assist them in providing an emergency response to vulnerable populations including those that are homeless, those with substance abuse issues and those with mental health concerns. This current situation has raised many concerns for clinicians and the vulnerable populations that we serve and the IHP is working closely with managers and front line clinicians to ensure we are proactive in developing comprehensive solutions to ensure these populations are well cared for during this crisis. The IHP is working closely with our Public Relations team reviewing all available evidence on pandemic health responses to vulnerable populations to explore lessons learned to assist in informing our response.
The ‘Frontline Response to Health and Homelessness’ podcast features leaders from different agencies, clinicians and those with lived experience who contributed articles for the upcoming March 2020 edition of Parity magazine sponsored by SVHA. These interviews include stories of innovation and hope developed across Australia by homeless agencies and health service and include interviewee’s responses to COVID-19 pandemic. This podcast series will begin posting episodes on all major formats from early April 2020.
Compassion Courage, Consolation podcast
The Group Mission team has launched a Podcast for all St Vincent’s people called Compassion, Courage, Consolation: Voices for St Vincent’s during COVID-19. The Podcast will feature interviews with staff, leaders, members of the community, and Sisters of Charity. They’ll be sharing wisdom, stories and practical suggestions to console us with times of reflection, bolster our courage, and cultivate the compassion we need for each other and those we serve at this time.
‘The Stillness Within’ mindfulness resource
Two audio and visual relaxations available to all St Vincent’s people. They can be live-streamed or downloaded. The most recent relaxation is titled The Stillness Within. It was created by our Pastoral and Spiritual Care team to respond to anxiety, insomnia, distress and depression. It encourages stillness, mindfulness and calm. It can be used with just audio or just visual, depending on your needs at the time.
‘Voices from the Heart’ Mary Aikenhead Ministries App
This beautiful App includes daily reflections, inspirational words from the life of Mary Aikenhead and even some stories from our own services. Available here.
Group Weekly Mindful Relaxation
Conscious that this time of COVID-19 can cause stress and anxiety, and that self-care is necessary, the Group Mission team will host a weekly opportunity to practice mindful relaxation. All staff are welcome to attend online for the 30 minutes or part thereof.
When: Every Tuesday, 2:00 – 2:30PM (Join Microsoft Teams meeting here)
Chapel @ St Vincent’s Group on Connect is a sacred space where each one of us is encouraged to visit from time to time to nurture our soul. All are welcome. We’d love this site to reflect the diversity of spiritual practices we know are important to our staff. Here we want you to place your heartfelt prayer requests so others may see them and hold them in their heart too. Here we also invite you to post links to helpful practices of the spiritual kind, uplifting or consoling words or images. Imagine you’ve just walked into a chapel on one of our sites for a quiet moment to yourself... when you visit this page, this is how we want you to feel... gently in the presence of the divine.
Ethical Discernment and Decision-making support
COMING SOON: St Vincent’s is working collaboratively with Catholic Health Australia to develop a set of resources designed to support staff in making difficult ethical decisions in cases of resource scarcity. The resources are designed to help teams consider how our Code of Ethical Standards applies in such cases. Your Mission Leader will have access to these resources once they are released, and draft versions are being used at present to inform work that is currently underway. For any questions, contact email@example.com