humber river hospital kindness cart

Toronto hospital introduces Kindness Cart to thank and support overworked staff

It's no secret that hospital staff and healthcare workers in Ontario are more than a little overworked and burned out over a year into the global pandemic, so one Toronto hospital came up with a small but meaningful way to acknowledge and thank its dedicated workers.

"The Kindness Cart" is the name of Humber River Hospital's new worker recognition strategy, and it's just one part of a staff, physician and volunteer (SPV) health and well-being plan to acknowledge the strain of COVID-19 on its frontline workers.

The plan is based on three pillars: keeping SPVs safe, keeping SPVs informed, and supporting the mental and psychosocial health of SPVs.  

"Now, as we enter the third wave, it is the third pillar of the psychosocial and mental health of our SPVs that is of the greatest importance. With this in mind, in February of 2021, we initiated a recognition strategy we termed The Kindness Cart," reads a statement from the Ontario Hospital Association about the initiative.

"The intention was to create a cart that would visit all units, both clinical and non-clinical, on a rotating schedule to deliver personal care items."

Items being delivered to all units throughout the hospital include mini hand creams and chap sticks, individually wrapped foods such as granola bars, protein bars and candy bars, and mental health support information.

"With the collaboration of our Infection Protection and Control team, our Volunteer Services and our Patient Flow Managers, we developed a plan that was safe, incorporated infection control measures and focused on recognition and thanks," reads the statement.

And while this initiative has only been in place for a couple of months, the hospital says the feedback from SPVs as well as the operators of the cart has been overwhelmingly positive.

"The Kindness Cart initiative was highly appreciated by every SPV that we encountered," said one volunteer cart operator, according to the OHA. 

"We got some amazing comments such as 'You made my day' and 'This is lovely.' One staff member seemed quite overwhelmed and said 'thank you' multiple times also while saying it feels great to be appreciated, seeming to have almost teared up. I think it is an overall fantastic experience and an excellent way to visit different departments at the hospital."

As a result, volunteer cart operators are now encouraging the organization to continue this endeavour for the foreseeable future in an effort to continue supporting staff throughout the worsening third wave.

"The preparation taken to put this concept into action has paid off," reads the statement. "The Kindness Cart provides the opportunity to exhibit the Hospital's appreciation with this simple, kind gesture."

Lead photo by

Humber River Hospital

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