DiversityNursing Blog

New Ways Hospitals Are Helping Their Frontline Workers Deal With Stress

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Oct 19, 2020 @ 02:59 PM

nursebreakFrontline healthcare workers face stressors during normal times, but especially now during a pandemic and hospitals are finding new ways to help their staff cope. 

Recently, University Hospitals in Ohio announced they would be trying out a 10-month pilot program that provides sleep pods for their teams. Doctors, Nurses and staff in the UH Cleveland Medical Center Emergency Department will have access to two HOHM units as a space to safely recharge.

Each 43.5 square-foot pod is designed to block out sound and features a twin-sized bed, a privacy and sound-blocking curtain, charging stations, and a tablet to control reservations. 

“Our UH Cleveland Medical Center Emergency Department frontline caregivers have been working tirelessly for months to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Robyn Strosaker, MD,, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center Chief Operating Officer. “In the midst of all this trauma and stress, we’ve continuously looked for new ways to support our team, and HOHM sleep pods are a way we can help address their wellbeing.”

Some hospitals are making design changes to their break rooms as a way to try and help healthcare workers manage their stress throughout the day. 

Nurses may be reluctant to take breaks especially during times of crisis. But taking breaks during your shift can help prevent burnout. So when a Nurse does decide to take a break, there should be a space where they can fully decompress and have time to gather their thoughts and recharge. 

Research has found strong evidence between exposure to natural environments and recovery from physiological stress and mental fatigue. Break rooms are becoming a green space with plants and images on the walls of natural landscapes. Create a sitting space with cushioned chairs or ottomans by windows that have a nice view outside. Offer the option of listening to calming music or nature sounds inside the break room. 

Hospitals are also offering time for their staff to spend with support animals. 

Nonprofit organization Canine Companions for Independence provided Jordy, a lab/golden retriever cross to help frontline workers at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. 

“The science confirms what we already know, pets provide comfort and support during hard times,” said Jessica Lacanlale, MSN, Trauma Program Manager at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. “The stress of caring for patients and working long hours is intense; but spending a little time with Jordy lifts my spirits and helps me get through the long days.”

Health Systems like Yale New Haven Health are offering confidential well-being check-in programs. This offers employees an opportunity to meet with an expert social worker or clinician one-on-one to discuss their needs and access resources to manage stress and improve well-being.

“People often downplay their own needs, saying ‘I’m OK’ when asked how they are doing,” said Javi Alvarado, YNHHS’ director of social work and co-chair of the WELD Council. “These visits create an opportunity to be better than ‘OK’ and truly grow from recent challenges.” 

During this pandemic, it is critical hospitals and health systems recognize what stress looks like and takes steps to help their staff cope with it. Equally as important is that healthcare workers know where they can go for help. This means internal communications to staff is key to express your awareness of the stress and the assistance being offered.

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Topics: coping, stress, hospital staff, healthcare professionals, Nurse burnout, managing stress, stress management, frontline workers, frontline healthcare workers, pandemic

Support Programs To Help Nurses Deal With Stress

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Thu, Jan 30, 2020 @ 02:46 PM

supportIn order for a healthcare system to be successful in having high engagement, job satisfaction and retention, the Nursing workforce should be able to combat the stressors of the job and burnout.

Nurses can better accomplish this by having help from peer support groups and mindfulness programs.

According to a report from the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), between 35% and 54% of Nurses and Doctors experience burnout. Among medical students and residents, it is as high as 60%.

Symptoms, the NAM report said, include emotional exhaustion, cynicism, loss of enthusiasm and joy in their work and increasing detachment from their patients and the patients’ ailments. The problem has been linked to higher rates of depression, substance abuse and suicide.

Many institutions are implementing stress management and self-care programs to provide caregivers with easy-to-use tools and resources to build their resilience and help them cope.

The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi implemented a new mindfulness program known as the ‘Compassionate Intension Program.’ The sessions introduce caregivers to mindfulness as a wellness tool they can utilize in both their workplace and personal lives. Currently, there are three sessions in place:

  • In Tune Tuesdays: Held biweekly, ‘In Tune Tuesdays’ are 20-minute classes designed to further educate attendees on mindfulness and how to improve mindfulness in their work environment. The classes are held at three different times to accommodate caregiver schedules.
  • Mindfulness Rounding: Also a biweekly activity, ‘Mindfulness Rounding’ features a team of mindfulness experts who visit clinical units. The experts conduct learning huddles and one-on-one conversations with caregivers, sharing quick tips. Their pocket cards or guides offer information on easy-to-implement mindfulness techniques.
  • Introduction to Mindfulness Workshop: This 8-week workshop, featuring 1-hour weekly sessions, was developed around the evidence-based standards of mindfulness experts, including, Jon Kabit-Zinn, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Center for Mindfulness, and Richard Davidson, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Healthy Minds and Oxford University’s Mindfulness Center. It offers a deeper dive into various mindfulness techniques.

Johns Hopkins Hospital, Pediatric Nurse, Cheryl Connors, RN, MS, created a peer program to provide immediate support for health providers affected by stressful cases.

The Resilience in Stressful Events (RISE) program was developed with a Pediatric Chaplain, a Patient Safety Director, a Doctoral Student, and General Internist Albert Wu, MD, FACP.

According to the American College of Physicians, the RISE program provides a team of 39 peer responders who volunteer their time to support those who call the service. RISE team members include Nurses, Doctors, Nurse Practitioners, Respiratory Therapists, Pastoral Caregivers, and Social Workers. They undergo didactic, video-based, and role-playing training.

The team has been called by more than 700 Johns Hopkins employees. The hospital previously had a program offering free professional counseling but, Ms. Connors said, “They actually prefer somebody who knows what they're going through—another health caregiver who can relate—and when they need it, not a week later.”

As supporters of patients and their families, Nurses deal with a lot of stress. Health systems can help their Nurses by surrounding them with support and offering them the tools to overcome and cope with stress so they can provide the best care for their patients and for themselves.

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Topics: peer support, burnout, self-care, mindfulness, managing stress, stressed nurses, support programs, nursing is stressful, nurse retention, stress management

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