Recharge Rooms redefining relaxation and rejuvenation

May 9, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

According to research, a chance to rest shows a decrease in stress.

And one year after first opening, Michigan Medicine’s Recharge Rooms have redefined the ways staff can relax and rejuvenate at work.

Led by Nursing at Michigan, the Recharge Rooms are celebrating their birthday after an influential gift by the Whipple and Church families. With a year of reflection, consultation and a pile of data, the next generation of experiences were installed in the rooms by partner Studio Elsewhere in April.

“Our team has spent the past year developing a new immersive technology platform that’s entirely customized to our Recharge Room application,” said CEO and founder of Studio Elsewhere Mirelle Phillips. “We also are excited to release new experiences based on the data and feedback we’ve seen from the Michigan Medicine community.”

New hardware has been installed in the rooms with ceiling mounted projectors and a new talk-back feature that helps users feel more comfortable in the immersion.

Nora Errickson, M.P.H., strategic advisor to the chief nurse executive, and Kathleen Robertson, M.S., R.N., director of the Office of Counseling and Workplace Resilience, have worked alongside Phillips to develop and implement these rooms. With the aid of the Recharge Room Steering Committee, Errickson, Robertson and their colleagues have created special, quiet places for staff that are positive for mental health.

‘Grounding you in purpose’

Michigan Medicine was unique in this charge by being the first health care system in the Midwest to bring Recharge Rooms to its employees. So far, the results have been remarkable.

The brain health benefits of what Michigan Medicine nurses feel after using the Recharge Rooms show improvement in mood, focus and concentration. In a pilot period, staff who used the room experienced a significant reduction in short-term stress — 57 percent. In addition, their positive mood, alertness and energy increased, too — 21 percent. Those staff also reported an astounding 33 percent increase in cognitive alertness.

“A 15-minute experience can have a profound impact on your day by grounding you in your purpose as a health care worker,” Errickson said. “The Recharge Rooms impact employee experience, create a shared space of belonging for teams after an event on a unit, and allow nurses and staff to be better caretakers to provide the safest care to patients.”

A myriad of uses

The rooms, located at C&W 7-231, CVC 5331A and Med Inn C626, are open 24/7 for all staff and faculty to take moments for themselves.

They’re also the sites of other recharging activities, such as personal yoga or “paw-ffice hours” with Anna the Therapy dog. In February, three such sessions allowed nurses and staff to take time off the floor, unwind and maybe even take a short nap before continuing with the rest of their shift.

For Nurses Week, Anna will be in the C&W room Monday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and the Med Inn room on Wednesday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Using the rooms is easy – scan in with your ID, sit down and talk. There are menu boards available to help the unacquainted get started. Everything is voice activated with categories for energy, focus, calm and relaxation. Experiences are named — Campfire Cape and Serenity Beach for example — and allow users to be taken to that landscape with the associated sounds. The experiences last 15 minutes and bring you back to the main menu.

Next steps in creating a better experience will include facilitator cards. Currently under development, Errickson noted that facilitator cards would include prompts for use during an experience.

For her and Phillips, it’s been a partnership that has benefited so many.

“Studio Elsewhere has been a great partner,” Errickson said. “Making sure that each space is perfect, from both an aesthetic and a technical perspective, to brainstorming additional tools for the Recharge Rooms like the facilitator cards.”

These are some of the pioneering steps that Michigan Medicine is employing to aid a positive workplace. In some cases, teams will go use the rooms together. And the connections to the experiences available are because of those who use them.

“I love hearing about what experiences the staff love and ideas they have for others,” Phillips said. “Some of the new experiences we’re launching at Michigan this month come directly from staff feedback.”

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