New ways to support your hospice caregivers
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
The generous and caring determination of a hospice caregiver is truly an honor to behold. As an organizational administrator, your goal is no doubt to help these excellent professionals provide the most help to their patients as they can — and you want to offer them all the professional and emotional support they need as well.
Fortunately, research has pointed out new directions administrators can go in terms of making their staff members' daily experience as streamlined and trouble-free as possible. Here are some fresh ideas to employ:
Utilize video conferencing between your staff members and patients/families.
It can often be difficult for patients and their family members to come to necessary care choices in a stressful moment at home — often a hospice nurse will be met with anger or sadness when he or she has to suggest increasing a medication given at end of life, for example.
A study from the University of Missouri found that when hospice workers use video conferencing so the patient and/or relative can see that patient's doctor face-to-face while discussing a care issue, that patient/relative is more receptive to making appropriate care choices.
Obviously, this is crucial for the patient's comfort, and very helpful in terms of cutting a nurse's stress level.
Increase spiritual resources.
Researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that when hospice patients who requested spiritual guidance or conversation were promptly given that access, they felt better about their overall care.
Hospice caregivers may be distressed if they don't know how to answer these spiritually related concerns, or if they don't share the same beliefs as their patients. Make sure to employ more than one chaplain per shift so that patients' needs can be addressed quickly, without leaving this complex task to their caregivers.
Facilitate ongoing palliative care instruction.
Even the most experienced hospitalists can benefit from pursuing ongoing end-of-life care strategy instruction. Your caregivers will feel most empowered when they know about new care procedures, so make sure they are allowed to attend continuing education seminars and workshops whenever possible.
Encourage frequent debriefing.
Research from the University of Surrey found that hospice staff members who regularly shared their experiences with co-workers in a group setting felt less stress, and felt they cared more efficiently for their patients with optimal empathy and compassion.
Establish a daily meeting time — even if it's just for 30 minutes or so — and attend it, so your caregivers will see your concern for their welfare and desire to listen to what they go through.
Does your supervising nurse need a day off to relax? Say yes to her request.
Does that terrific PCA who always picks up an extra shift for you need a second set of hands to lift a particular patient more easily? Say yes, and schedule a co-worker to help her daily.
Keep an open line of communication with your care team, and do everything you can to make them feel appreciated and understood. When you give to them, they'll give back to your organization's patients more than ever before.
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