What has your health workforce experienced with the pandemic? The Canadian College for Health Leaders (CCHL) recently hosted a two-part webinar series for its members on National Perspectives to Help Leaders Prepare Their Workforce for Pandemic Response.

This webinar series was convened by Managing Partner Shawn Drake of Workforce Edge, on behalf of the Comparative Panel on Health Workforce Mobilization (a national collaboration of like-minded health leaders focused on operationalizing leading practices for workforce planning and deployment sponsored by CCHL, HealthCareCAN, and ICPA-Forum).

These CCHL-hosted webinars are available to members only here:
Part one: National Perspectives to Help Leaders Prepare Their Workforce for Pandemic Response
Part two: National Perspectives to Help Leaders Prepare Their Workforce for Pandemic Response

If you are not a CCHL member, please read on for a summary of the high-level themes shared throughout the two webinars. Presenters included health leaders from across Canada:
Alberta Health Services
BC Care Providers Association
Canadian Mental Health Association – Simcoe County
Canadian Patient Safety Institute
CHU de Quebec
Health Standards Organization
LEADS Canada
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Michael Garron Hospital, Toronto East Health Network
Nova Scotia Health Authority
The Ottawa Hospital
PMH Healthcare Associates
Workforce Edge

Each leader shared a five-minute summary of their perspective and experience on:
• How their pandemic responses have impacted their health workforce, and
• Advancing policies and practices to better support workforce mobilization.

HSO took the opportunity to share resources designed to support health care and social service workers as they implement measures to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19.

Here are a few key themes that emerged from the two webinars:

  • Workforce health and safety
    o Healthcare workers are at a significant occupational risk for burnout as they deal with physical safety risks in addition to compassion fatigue and prolonged exposure to trauma and stress.
    o The importance of keeping workers physically and psychologically safe and supported to sustain a healthy and resilient workforce that can be safely deployed to different settings has been particularly highlighted during the pandemic response.
    o Transparency in staffing, re-deployment and related scheduling decisions are key in supporting the workforce at these times.
  • Managing with agility and resilience
    o Leaders need to be agile and resilient in their approach to workforce deployment in this pandemic. The goal is to strive for a balance between responding to pandemic-related needs, while also planning for the resumption of non-essential services.
    o Having clean data concerning the workforce, their skills, and availability is an integral part of decision-making during pandemic planning and response.
    o A high degree of collaboration, regular communication, and transparency throughout organizations and the health system are needed to ensure resources can be quickly re-deployed based on where they are needed most. Examples include:
     Daily meetings to review resource needs from a system-wide lens
     Sharing solutions to common challenges through communities of practice
     Developing tools and databases to collect and use real-time data to make informed decision and remain responsive
    o Overall, leaders need to be bold and try new approaches.
  • Enabling transformation
    o Critical systemic issues related to health human resource management such as workforce shortages and increasing needs have predated the COVID-19 pandemic, but have been particularly exposed by it.
    o There are calls for a national strategy to help human resources address these systemic issues. Such a strategy for transformation would necessitate support from policymakers through levers such as funding, laws and regulations, education and training, and research and evaluation. The transformation would need to be based on a people-powered approach that is enabled by political will, bold leadership, a culture of collaboration, and shared governance.
    o Business practices and workflows that impact the workforce should be consistent and standardized and easily accessible to all stakeholders.

Thank you again to everyone who participated. We encourage you to explore CCHL’s publicly available webinars here and Health Standards Organization and Accreditation Canada’s complementary webinars and resources here.