You’re in the business of taking care of people. Not just your patients or clients but also your staff – the people who are responsible for providing care, carrying out your mission, and representing your brand.
But you have a lot to juggle in an effort to take care of everyone; long hours, budgets, regulatory compliance demands, heavy caseloads, and the everyday challenges of caring for people can create “compassion fatigue.” If you don’t know how to support your care team, there will be someone around the corner who’ll say that they can. The costs associated with staff turnover can be a constant stress. Your heart is in the right place, but you just don’t know how to stop the proverbial bleeding.
Here are 4 steps to doing so:
1. Set them up for success
Every time a care practitioner walks into a patient’s room, they need to be armed with the right information to help them deliver care that’s just right for that person. Beyond the labels like “Type-O blood” and “Beta blockers” and “Lewy Body Dementia”, knowing what really matters to that person can make a huge difference in how receptive they are to care and getting off on the right foot together. Is the patient a military veteran who works better when following a strict routine? Did the person have a treasured pet whose photos have a calming effect? The more you know a person, the better you can care for them, which can be a much more rewarding experience for your team (and patients).
2. Provide supports
Whether your staff are out in the field providing remote care in homes, or switching off with each other on shifts in a communal care residence, many will report feeling solitary or disconnected from anyone else who can support them. By giving them access to everyone in the care circle (from other members of their team to foot care nurses, OT’s, physiotherapists, etc.), your front line staff can ask questions and share their own knowledge about this unique individual that they are all caring for. When people feel like they are connected to others who understand their challenges, there is a greater sense of belonging and community that will keep people coming into work every day.
3. Invite participation
Show your team how much you value their expertise by giving them a way to participate in care planning and problem solving. Everyone has special care tricks up their sleeves worth sharing. Does the patient exhibit responsive behaviors every time she needs to eat? One PSW’s insight into what works for her could help all of her colleagues if she has a tool for sharing that advice (especially helpful for new staff or shift fill-ins). By creating an environment in which people feel encouraged to show off their magic, feel proud of their accomplishments, and educate others, you will soon have a team filled with participatory, empowered, happy people.
4. Measure and acknowledge progress
If you now have a team of satisfied, motivated, and engaged care practitioners, you are going to see a marked change in your organization and the level of care you’re providing. Tasks may be accomplished in a more efficient manner, morale will be higher, and your patients and their families will want to remain in your hands for as long as they can. You will also have the insights into how your team is accomplishing this work, who is really shining, and who might need some extra coaching. Sometimes all a caregiver wants to hear is “Thank you” or feel seen for all that they do. You can do this either one-on-one or in the care circle forum for all to acknowledge. Look at your data. Show gratitude. And you will have a loyal team.
Are you ready to make the transformation?