Each day across Massachusetts, individuals and families entrust their lives to the men and women who have dedicated their working lives to the caring professions. We owe each one of them gratitude for the difficult work they do on our behalf, and we must ensure their safety and promote their wellbeing as they fulfill their caring mission.
Nearly all of us have spent anxiety-filled moments when our health or the health of our loved ones has been imperiled. Many of us can recall the comfort and care we received in those difficult times. What we often fail to measure, however, is the profound stress borne by those caring for us. RNs and other healthcare professionals, no matter how steeled against the daily stresses of their job, nonetheless bear the burdens of care, of comforting the afflicted, and of coping with sorrow when a patient under their care succumbs to illness.
The caregiving professions are profoundly difficult jobs, taking an emotional and spiritual toll on the healthcare workforce. And hospital jobs are dangerous as well, as nurses and others face environmental risks, violent attacks from the public, and even, unfortunately, harm from workplace cultures where supportive encouragement can be replaced by demeaning behavior.
MHA and its members are committed to ensuring the healthcare workforce is recognized for its efforts and that the safety and wellbeing of our employees is protected.
The goal is enhance organizational health by fostering an interest in well-being and encouraging wellness. It is not limited to employees. Rather, the hope is to also positively influence the health behaviors of patients and their families as they experience care through a facility.
The Caring for the Caregiver initiative focuses on three core pillars:
- Employee Recognition & Gratitude
- Workplace Safety
- Employee Wellbeing
Acknowledge the valued contributions of hospital staff and support them with resources to enhance the safety of their work environment and wellbeing.
Employee Recognition & Gratitude
The quantifiable elements involved in helping hospitals support their workforce’s wellbeing involves policies and programs, best practices, learnings from focus groups, shared data, educational programs, and more. But the less concrete, yet even more valuable element, involves creating a work environment of mutual respect to allow workers to find joy and fulfillment in the honorable work they do.
Regularly recognizing the efforts of our nurses and the whole hospital care team is both appropriate and necessary to create positive work environments that will translate into high-quality patient care.
Massachusetts hospitals serve communities by providing medically necessary care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To meet their mission, hospitals are open and accessible to all members of the public. As such, staff, patients, and family members of patients may unfortunately be subject to incidences of violence within the hospital setting despite hospitals' best efforts.
Massachusetts hospitals have been, and remain committed to, working with their staff and patients to review internal systems, develop policies and programs to prevent violence in the workplace, and respond to each and every incident.
In Massachusetts, the state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development have issued guidance and information for entities like hospitals to develop workplace violence prevention and crisis response plans. The main accrediting agency for hospitals – the Joint Commission – recognizes the need for facilities to protect against workplace violence; it has issued guidance and standards that hospitals have used to update existing practices. In addition, federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration have issued guidance and information that hospitals and other providers review regularly.
As new challenges and safety concerns arise, hospitals continually adapt to protect patients and the healthcare workforce.
Empowering workers and supporting their emotional, physical, social, intellectual, spiritual and even financial health are necessary steps to allow the healthcare workforce perform their mission to the best of their abilities. The following resources can assist healthcare facilities care for the caregiver, which will, in turn, strengthen patient care.