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Saying thanks isn’t just nice to do… it can actually change lives: The importance of Employee Recognition in the Workplace

Nov 5, 2018 | Leadership, Faces of HDGH

Thank You

Happy November folks … this month’s blog is going to focus on appreciation and why saying thank you and being grateful to your employees is important.

I’m going to start by taking you back to when I was a little girl. My parents worked hard but there was never anything extra in our household so it was truly miraculous the year that we got a television. The reason I tell you this is because one of the shows I remember most is Romper Room and the reason I remember this show was the Magic Mirror.

For those of you who grew up in the Star Wars era and beyond where everything science fiction is possible I ask you to consider what it was like for a little girl in Scarborough, to sit in front of the TV, and see a beautiful lady with a magic mirror say that “she can look through her mirror and see all the boys and girls.” Kind of like Santa Claus. My sisters and I would watch and hope that she called our name … I don’t ever recall her calling my name but the anticipation of it – the knowledge that she knew that I was there –was powerful to me. It was fantasy, but for me, very real.

One of the show’s hosts was interviewed about the Magic Mirror and the popularity of that segment where she would go to the desk and pick up the mirror. She said, “It has less to do with me. It has even less to do with the mirror. It has everything to do with that little kid sitting on the floor who I would talk directly to,” she says “Little children want to be recognized. They want to be noticed. Then as adults we still want to be validated and seen.”

That desire to be validated and seen is why saying THANK YOU and why this year’s staff appreciation week matters.

I’ve worked in many organizations where employees are valued and appreciated as well as those where that is not the case. There is a difference in how those organizations feel, perform and how patients, clients and families experience their care. Not surprisingly organizations where staff feel valued, appreciated and are told thank you outperform all the rest on most of the metrics that matter. Here, at HDGH, we want our staff to feel appreciated, thanked and validated – and we’re working hard on creating that kind of culture. Thus – the Changing Lives Recognition Program.

From an HR perspective, a blog from talks about 5 reasons why employee engagement matters (2015). One that jumped out at me is that employees like being connected and involved and seeing themselves as an important piece in the bigger picture – the Mission of the hospital if you will. I liked that and relate it to our commitment and ongoing support to the development of our unit based councils where staff voice plays an important part in achieving excellence on the unit. I believe staff voice matters – is actually critical in our success – and I commit our leadership team to continuing to support this journey.


The second perspective is from a blog by (2017) about how to value your employees. It’s focused on small business and you may wonder about its relevance in healthcare but I think in many ways we are a small business. One could argue that our individual units and programs are unique small business environments in some ways. The post articulates much of what I’m talking about here; everyone benefits from praise in the workplace, thank you matters and flexible environments where employees have discretionary decision making (unit councils again) matters. But what stood out to me is this statement; Everyone needs a mission. This is important because it leads to the discussion about what makes HDGH successful – everyone being part of the bigger picture and feeling that their contribution makes a difference. Being acknowledged, appreciated and thanked for your work leads to that connection.

Finally let’s talk about the numbers.

In 2017/2018 HDGH saw a 5% improvement in patients receiving information on admission, a 3% reduction of total patients falls, a 92.2% overall hand hygene and 94% of our patients telling us they would recommend HDGH to friends. HDGH is doing really really well on our quality and safety metrics. Our patients’ feedback is excellent and our engagement scores across all areas is good to great. That’s important because remember that our focus and our priority is to provide excellent patient/client care. Staff that are valued and appreciated are happier at work and the results here demonstrate that quite ably.

In closing let me be really clear and address our HDGH staff directly. It’s important to validate and appreciate you all in order to provide better patient care, to do well on our accreditation survey, to have better results on our QIP etc. All that is important. But – it’s not the best reason to say thank you to all of you for what you do. The best reason to say thank is that you are deserving of thanks – of acknowledgement – of appreciation.
I want you to know that we get how tough the job is. We know how much you care. We know how tired you are sometimes. We know that sometimes you wonder if anyone is paying attention.

We do and we are.

Thank you for continuing to help us achieve great things for our patients, and clients and our community. We appreciate it and we appreciate you.

I appreciate you.

Thank you.

Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

Sep 10, 2018 | Leadership, Faces of HDGH

Prentice Kids

Happy September everyone!


Hard to believe that another summer is winding down to make way for the beauty and fun of the fall season. It’s a great time of year that is filled with energy and excitement for some and trepidation and fear for others. For instance my grandkids are super excited to have new backpacks and to be getting back on their bus to
school. At the same time they are scared and nervous about going to “latchkey” for the first time since mom has a new full time job. The same experience – the same anticipation – can inspire both good emotions and less helpful ones all at the same time.


Personally I’ve had many experiences in my almost 60 years (yep that BIG birthday is on the horizon) that have taught me to pay attention when I’m feeling nervous, uncertain or uncomfortable. When I feel uncomfortable with a new situation or a new project or a new partnership – all of which continue to be part of my job here at HDGH – I am continuously reminded to learn from each one of these in turn becoming a stronger, more informed and hopefully more effective CEO.


This past summer, my husband Bernie and I moved into our forever home on Lake St. Clair. We had planned to wait until we were both retired but trusted our instincts and purchased a 25 year old home. It had great bones and was well constructed but was missing a part that made it feel “like us.” … so we undertook a renovation project. It took months and months but we finally moved in at the beginning of summer. 


If you have gone through a construction or renovation project, you know they are often made up of decision after decision. Choosing everything from floors and paint to faucets and finishes. Along the way I was at times frustrated, angry, sad, hopeless, happy and above all impatient. I had to trust the advice and counsel of the professionals we hired and it was hard at times to imagine how this mess before my eyes would ever come back together to look normal again. But it did. At the end of the project I can honestly say I love how it came together. I had to stay focused on the end goal and not let my fears and frustrations get in the way of getting there. 


Many of you may be facing challenges at work, at home, at church, within your family or you know someone who is. You will be uncomfortable and feel like the end goal is far out of reach. That’s ok. The big lesson that I’ve learned over the years is to not let the discomfort stand in my way. Each of us has a path to travel along – travel it with confidence and you will grow comfortable with being uncomfortable.


I leave you with this quote to think about going into the fall season; “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” - Brian Tracy


Be awkward. Be uncomfortable. Become YOU!


Advice I wish I had gotten after graduating

Jul 4, 2018 | Leadership, Faces of HDGH


I’ll never forget the day I ‘graduated’ from Queen’s University with my Masters in Public Administration. It was the strangest feeling. I had worked so hard, given up time with my kids and husband, lived away from home for months and then suddenly I got the certificate in the mail. I couldn’t go to the actual graduation as I was moving that weekend. An odd feeling on many levels. Beyond all the graduation stress there was a feeling like I was ready to conquer the world and most of me felt terrified of all that at the same time. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one feeling this strange sense of excitement, nerves and fear of what’s next. Up to this point, a big part of my life had been about the routine of school; hours spent in class, studying, doing homework and balancing it all with being a wife, mom and nurse. Now, I was free, but free to do what?


As there are so many new grads out there at this time of year, I would like to take July’s blog as an opportunity to share some words of wisdom to everyone that perhaps is experiencing the array of emotions that comes with graduating post-secondary.


Here are some of the things myself and HDGH colleagues wish we had been told when entering that big scary “real” world when you feel you have to prove to everyone that all those years of school were worth it.



Your career is a marathon – not a sprint. We all have goals and aspirations and many of us…particularly the type As of us in the crowd want to achieve success the minute we hit the ground running but every job that we have…every project or piece of work is an opportunity to learn and to grow. Every one we meet along the way…no matter their role… is a potential teacher. So, instead of always looking to the finish line – let each step along the way be an experience that enables you to get to the next step. And… HAVE FUN!

- TERRA CADEAU, Director of Innovation, Research, and New Business Development


“Learn to fail, or fail to learn”; if we want to grow as individuals we need to be confident in trying new things and taking risks, without concerning ourselves with the possibility of failing.

- PAT BEGIN, Occupational Therapist, Inpatient Rehab 


Be a team player. Education and the job market can be very competitive. Sometimes people forget that we need to support one another, and not just look out for ourselves.

- JAMES STOREY, Operations Supervisor, Security 

Try to go with the flow, keep a positive outlook, and try to say “yes” to as many opportunities as you can because there will always be something new to learn, a new person to meet, and a new place to explore.

- JENNIFER VOTH, Research Associate 


From me Jan ….. This was a tough question for me, but a good one. I thought long and hard and came up with this bit of advice…


I wish someone had told me that your degree is a passport of sorts – it isn’t a guarantee of admission to the future you think you’re entitled to. A good university (or post-secondary) education opens a door – but you have to go through many doors to get to the destination you’re ultimately meant to arrive at.


Good luck to all of you, and remember doors are meant to be opened. Step through with confidence, excitement and an open-mind.




When Career and Passion Collide

Mar 1, 2018 | Mental Health, Faces of HDGH

When Career and Passion Collide

In December of last year, we launched our very own HDGH Blog. The first few blog posts were from myself on topics such as the holidays, heart health and our Pre-Budget Consultation. Each month, this blog has, and will continue to, cover a variety of topics including healthcare, wellness, spirituality, and life in general.

It was always our intent with this form of communication that you hear from many voices. I am a true believer in the collective wisdom of our organization. With that, I am excited to introduce a new March blogger – a dedicated, passionate member of our HDGH Family, Sarah Myer, Crisis Worker with our Transitional Stability Centre (TSC). It is our hope that by reading Sarah’s post you understand our downtown TSC from someone who is very much living our HDGH mission each day. Perhaps even more powerful, however, we hope it gives you a glimpse of the beauty that happens when career and passion gracefully collide.

- Jan

When Career and Passion Collide

By: Sarah Myer, HDGH Crisis Worker

TSC is a place of many things, new and old. People from all walks of life, cultures, backgrounds, ethnicities, and socio-economic status come to the TSC for a wide variety of things. Much like myself. Working as a Crisis Worker and MSW on the first mental health treatment team to move into the downtown core has been both an honour and privilege. Much like everyday at the TSC.

The day is often filled addressing symptoms of anxiety, depression and wellness, but behind the scenes it’s filled with so much more. Honest, sincere and frank human to human discussions occur by the minute and topics often include suicidal thoughts, homelessness, psychiatric symptoms, health concerns, medication concerns, substance abuse - both prescribed and street use, alcoholism, legal stressors, financial hardships; relationship breakdowns; sexual, emotional and physical abuse both survivors and perpetrators, violence, discrimination, stigma, loss, bereavement and grief; the topics are as varied as you and I.


The TSC is also a place of hope, support and acceptance; kindness, honesty and advocacy. Using the foundation of value and dignity; while integrating multiple therapeutic approaches, the TSC is building a new house of hope; one where anyone can access multiple mental health services in one location. Breaking down some of the structural barriers that create long wait-lists and lose people in the process. The TSC is committed to navigating an otherwise at times complicated system with anyone who needs support. As a new and growing program we are able to evaluate and change as necessary to the ever-changing needs of the people we serve. When you enter TSC you are immediately met with a community agency feel combined with one to one individualized treatment focused supports. A one stop shop if you will. Growing hope, growing services and planting seeds of change is a process we are fully committed to as a team; as an organization; as professionals.

Growing seeds of change has been a big part of my professional journey. I have had the honour and privilege to be a staff at HDGH since I was 19 years old. It’s actually a family affair; as my mother, a registered nurse also works for an outpatient mental health team at HDGH. HDGH has often been a second home to me; as I am not originally from the Windsor area; staff, co-ordinators and managers alike have become a work family filled with memories, laughter, and learning. Originally I worked at the Regional Children’s Centre for almost 11 years, as a Child and Youth Worker on the Intensive Family Services team. As I grew I had the privilege to learn mental health treatment from some of the most knowledgeable salt of the earth people. It was there I learned emotional intelligence, tolerance, and acceptance. As RCC changed, so did I; I wanted to branch out my own understanding of mental health throughout the life span; and returned to school to obtain my Bachelors and Masters of Social Work degrees from the University of Windsor; all with the support of my second home. I then transferred to the Community Crisis Centre where I was welcomed into another work-family. This family taught me compassion, dedication and the value of self-determination. I spent almost two and half years traveling with our mobile team, working in the emergency department and manning the crisis phone line; assisting people in their darkest times to find hope, strength and a seed of change. As a student I focused on community work creating ever-valuable linkages within our community’s non-profit sector and am now able to use these linkages to build stronger connections between treatment and community supports in my everyday work at TSC.


A wise person once said “work a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”; another said, “From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow;” may that be ever true within TSC; within the people we serve; within myself.

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