Communicate Openly

Angie SzumlinskiHealth, Training

During this pandemic and beyond, we see that the stress put on our caregivers and staff has increased dramatically. We have added new policies, revised existing policies, and required staff to take on additional documentation and tasks throughout their shift. All of these changes can and have proven to increase their level of stress. As a leader, are you aware of the level of stress your staff may be under and if so, have you addressed it in a meaningful way?

Many communities have contracts with mental health clinics (employee assistance programs) for staff members who are distressed or just need to talk to someone outside of work and home. The fees for these services are covered by the community and staff members utilizing these services remain anonymous. If your company does not have this support option for staff, be sure you have some way to support the mental health of your team. Some suggestions that may assist in this include:

  • All staff meetings where the floor is open to discuss areas of concern, stress, frustration or any challenges that they are faced with.
  • Ensure that all new policies being introduced are realistic and attainable for the staff.
  • Keep the team informed about changes or status within the building. This can be tricky as the information and guidance changes so frequently and you must adhere to HIPAA regulations for privacy.
  • Be careful not to overwhelm the team with information, use your scheduled, weekly meeting for sharing new information unless there is a hot topic that needs to be discussed immediately. Break the information down and keep it short and simple; how is this going to affect your job?
  • Remain visible on the floor as much as possible. This allows you to jump in and assist your team when they are occupied with other residents/tasks. It also offers the team the opportunity to communicate with management throughout their shift and provides a great opportunity for the management team to observe daily operations on the floor.
  • Really listen to your staff and remember, there is a difference between listening and offering solutions. Know the right time to step in and assist, sometimes, staff know the solution, but they just need someone to listen to them for a few minutes. Make sure you have the time to stop and listen when they need you!

We are all struggling today but we are a strong community of providers and we will come through this, better than ever! Stay the course, stay strong, stay well, stay safe, mask up, and stay tuned!