Sonder’s wellbeing model

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We’re often asked to explain the meaning of Sonder and the model of care that we practice, as we work 24/7 to serve around 400,000 eligible members across organisations such as Woolworths, Commonwealth Bank, Allianz, NSW Government, Australian Army, and around half of Australia’s universities. We’re always happy to share these details, as it helps paint a more complete picture of how we assist organisations and their people.

What does sonder mean?

The definition of sonder is, “the realisation that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.” In simple terms, this means that when “sometimes you’re hurting so bad and you feel you’re the only one… you start to realise that… all people’s lives are unique, strange, chaotic, and complex, just like yours. You’re not alone.”

This appreciation that every individual is unique is at the very heart of everything we do at Sonder, and hence why we adopted our name. From our care model to our decision-making, everything we do aims to deliver the best personalised results for each member that we serve.

Our core beliefs

Realising that everyone is different, our care model is based on two core beliefs:

Barriers to care need to be lowered, so people can get help faster. Typical support systems in organisations and the broader community are complex and overwhelming, which means many people are not getting the care they need – when and where they need it. For those who can successfully navigate the complexity, they usually receive only short-term care for their most pressing symptoms, instead of a care plan based on a thorough evaluation of their long-term health and wellbeing; and

Effective care needs to be personalised, holistic and preventative, not cookie-cutter, band-aid and reactive. We also refer to this as human centric versus symptom centric, and there is a huge difference in these two approaches and their long-term results.

How we work

Our care model

These core beliefs define our care model, which offers:

● A single point of entry available 24/7 for safety, medical, and mental health support – so our members can more quickly and easily access the right care;

● A comprehensive consideration of who we are helping, recognising that everyone is different and one size does not fit all; and

Short- and long-term considerations – which includes proactive follow up on every case, to enhance long-term health outcomes.

Sonder wellbeing model

Our Sonder wellbeing model is how we bring this to life. It supports both the psychological (mind) and physical (body) wellbeing of an individual. It does so in a proactive, responsive and enduring manner, with appropriate consideration to the unique cultural, social, environmental, and vocational individualities of those we support.

Sonder Wellbeing recognises that mind and body, who you are, where you are, and where you belong, are inseparable aspects of ‘being well’. It appreciates that any intervention to support a person’s wellbeing must contemplate how these factors interact, and how best to bring these factors back into a sense of balance.

We understand that wellbeing is not something to be broken down into separately-considered components, and that true wellness is only achieved when all aspects of an individual are considered together and given equal importance.

Firstly, across mind and body:


Thoughts, feelings and emotions are integral components of wellbeing. This is about how we see ourselves in this universe. Mental health issues are a common manifestation of an imbalance in our wellbeing, requiring health support to understand and treat both the causes and the symptoms.


Good physical health is required for optimal development. Our physical being shelters us from the external environment. Issues can manifest internally (physical health) and externally (physical safety), with effective support requiring an appreciation of all the factors that need to be treated and/or removed.

Secondly, across all aspects of individuality:

Cultural (who we are)

Wellbeing is related to unseen and unspoken energies. The spiritual essence of a person is their life force. This determines us as individuals (who we are) and as a collective (what we are).

Social (where we belong)

The capacity to belong, to care, to be supported by, and to contribute to wider social systems provides us with the strength to be who we are.

Vocational (what we do)

What we do is not who we are, but our vocation is commonly a highly important (or non-negotiable) part of our life, and it can give us purpose.

Environmental (where we are)

Everywhere we go, there we are. We are both beneficiaries and victims of the space in which we live and work. Weather, crime, traffic, pandemics, natural disasters, terrorism and more, will impact on both our physical and psychological health and safety.

Thirdly, across self-empowerment:


Understanding our individual ‘steady state’ is critical for appropriate help-seeking behaviour. By having an intuitive sense of what is ‘normal’ for each of us, there is an enhanced ability to know when an imbalance requires us to self-evaluate or seek support.

To help make decisions about external risks, it’s important to receive accurate, timely and reliable information, so we can make decisions about removing ourselves and/or others from harm’s way.


Regardless of whether an imbalance manifests as a physical or a psychological concern, knowing what to do and where to go – to better understand and resolve an issue – is essential for ongoing wellbeing.


Wellbeing is a journey, not a destination. Whether it’s a temporary or ongoing issue and/or if previous interventions didn’t hit the mark; keeping on track and having a persistent approach to wellbeing is a key ingredient of long-term health.

Sonder wellbeing commitments

Our Sonder Wellbeing model is translated into a series of commitments to our members:

Mind and body
  • We commit to the identification of, and appropriate response to, issues of psychological health and psychological safety.
  • We commit to supporting the identification of, and appropriate response to, issues of physical health and physical safety.
  • We commit to considering beliefs, ethnicity, nationality, gender, and sexuality, to ensure we provide support that is right for our members.
  • We commit to considering how each member’s social connections (family and community) impact on their wellbeing – positively or negatively – as a cause or as a remedy.
  • We commit to seek to understand the role of each member’s chosen profession and how it is impacting them, to ensure we can best support their wellbeing.
  • We commit to supporting each member’s understanding of these events, to enable them to maintain their wellbeing in a proactive, responsive, and enduring manner.
  • We commit to providing tools to enable members to understand their ‘normal’, and providing routine triggers for them to self evaluate. We also commit to providing tools that help members anticipate potential external risks to their wellbeing so they can take action.
  • We commit to providing tools to enable members to respond in a timely and appropriate manner, either self-guided or with support from a Sonder professional.
  • We commit to following up to ensure our members are on the right track, and remembering where they have been (for future consideration).
DR Jamie Phillips, Medical Director and Head of Member Support at Sonder
Dr Jamie Phillips, Medical Director and Head of Member Support, Sonder


“Modern healthcare is a highly complex affair, comprising a system of sub-specialised and competing providers delivering increasingly siloed health support services.

Unfortunately, there is a common view that an individual’s health and wellness is made up of a series of individual components that should be considered and treated in isolation so as to improve organisational efficiency and increase productivity for the benefit of the health care providers.

Sadly, the individual (patient) is often forgotten in this process; they are treated as a collection of components to be tested and then repaired rather than a whole person with a unique set of needs and beliefs that combine and interact to influence their life.

The net result is that the individual is never truly healed and their ability to grow and fulfil their true potential is never achieved. The burden of incomplete or fragmented treatment impacts that individual, their family, their organisation, their community and wider society.”

Want to learn more?

For more information about our wellbeing model, or how we can help your organisation, we invite you to contact us here.

About Sonder

Sonder is a leading Australian wellbeing and safety company accredited by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS). Our solution is a technology-driven platform supported by 24/7 safety, medical, and mental health experts. This is backed up by a physical responder network that can be onsite within 20 minutes for time-sensitive scenarios, plus a capability to deliver unique and timely data insights which drive meaningful business decisions. 

At the company’s heart lies Sonder’s wellbeing model – a human-centric methodology which triages all aspects of a person’s wellbeing for enhanced long-term outcomes. We created A Simple Overview of ISO 45003 to help promote the importance of safe and healthy workplaces for employee wellbeing.

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