Nate’s Care Corner

Stress occurs in every profession. Deadlines, overwhelming quantities of work, challenging projects, and limited downtime affect all of us in ways that limit our ability to recharge when we’re not on the job.

For caregivers, this is compounded by the life-or-death nature of their everyday efforts.

It’s hard to have “big picture” perspective when the patients or residents you care for need what you provide in order to survive, much less to find simple joy in their lives.

Patient Experience (PX) Week, recognized annually in late April, gives us the opportunity to reflect on the idea of what is meaningful in “caring for another.” PX Week is an annual event to celebrate healthcare staff impacting patient experience everyday—a concept that Ceca Foundation has long recognized as being a critical component to the overall healthcare experience. PX, at its core, is a complex amalgamation of the sum of interactions patients have with all stakeholders in the health and senior care industry.

Given this complexity, it’s no surprise that about half of nurses and large portions of other healthcare workers consider leaving their field of employment in the coming years. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation-Washington Post Poll, “roughly 3 in 10 health-care workers have weighed leaving their profession. More than half are burned out. And about 6 in 10 say stress from the pandemic has harmed their mental health.” And the most frequent thing I hear from caregivers about the challenges they face are a lack of connection with their work and an abundance of non-caregiving responsibilities that consume their day.

All of this at a time where demographic and other circumstances say we need them the most.

So, what do caregivers rely on to keep them going? Typically, it boils down to three essential things.

  • A sense of purpose in doing whatever it takes to keep people healthy and happy
  • A feeling that fellow team members are sharing the burden and working toward a common goal
  • A belief that their employer is fully devoted to the same mission and set of key values

I’ve thought a lot about these concepts over the years, particularly as they apply to people working in the healthcare field. The feeling that the work they do is their calling. The shared responsibility they have with their peers. The understanding that their employer is there to support them along the way.

These connections are critical to allowing caregivers to be the best they can be.

If those they care for suspect they aren’t giving their all; if their teams aren’t communicating or working well together, within job roles and across departments; if their employers seem more concerned with financial or personal measures than providing quality care. It’s a recipe for disconnection, stress, burnout, and overall dissatisfaction in their daily efforts.

Research shows that these are addressable issues. Publicly circulating positive feedback from patients/residents and guests may only require a bullet-point in meetings, huddles or other staff messaging. In addition, giving your teams a forum to support, applaud, or even commiserate with one another can bond them in important ways. Finally, giving a platform to your managerial and leadership teams to highlight the behaviors that align with your organization’s stated mission and values shows that you are “all-in” on the patient-centric nature of your efforts.

Most important, it’s critical to understand that the simple act of giving gratitude can have a profound impact on the well-being of your staff, which will ultimately improve the patient experience for those you serve.

Ceca has spent years integrating these tenets into our Ceca Award programs and platform to make it easy for healthcare providers—whether hospitals, SNFs, senior living, hospice, behavioral health, or in-home care—to make these central to your staff support initiatives. We’ve helped dozens of organizations do it, and do it effectively, while freeing up human resources staff to focus on what they love and do best: provide exceptional care in their communities.

“Nate’s Care Corner” posts are authored by Ceca Foundation’s President, Nate Hamme, and are intended to provide insights and educational information on best practices in the employee engagement and recognition industry.