I'm a big advocate of taking small steps in the direction of change. Perhaps your organization isn't in the position of being able to upgrade the health insurance package or to install an onsite gymnasium for staff members. But here are some manageable actions along the road to creating a psychologically healthy workplace.
I started working in long-term care when I was in my early 30s and I was shocked at first when the residents died. I was used to falling in love with my patients. In order to make it in LTC, I've protected myself by falling in love in a different way.
I was hoping not to have occasion to write another column about tragedy so soon, but the terrible events at the Boston Marathon on Monday compel me to focus on the amount of information we provide to residents about distressing outside events.
I have great respect for those who attend to the often complicated physical needs of our long-term care residents, but if your facility doesn't have a solid social service department, it isn't as good as it could be. Yes, the medical care is vital, but the social service department addresses many of the issues essential to resident satisfaction.
Back when I worked in psych, one of our most effective tools to improve mental health was maintaining a healing emotional environment, or therapeutic milieu. That's why I was shocked when I first entered long-term care.
I sat in morning report as the nursing supervisor announced the arrival of a new resident. An 80-year old woman was taken to the hospital after a fall at home, where she received a below-knee amputation and contracted C. diff before being transferred to our facility. I looked around the room and speculated about what each of my team members were thinking, imagining thought bubbles over their heads.