Q: Your latest survey asked 1,200 healthcare workers, some 900 of them in long-term care, about their stress levels. What did you find?

A:Long-term care workers reported an average burden of 5.1 on the M5’s 0-10 scale. Scores in the 5’s are alarming, and if sustained over a period of months, increase risk of developing clinical mental illness. Long-term care rehab therapists reported a stress burden of 5.6, followed by case managers at 4.6, nursing staff at 4.5 and behavioral health and social services staff at 3.6.

Q: How are you using the data?

A:We’re trying to quantify the stress to make an economic case for reducing it. We’ve launched a pilot (15 Minutes for Me) to determine how well short bursts of physical exercise, brain exercises and meditation lessen psychological burden, and whether employer-supported programs improve retention. It’s not our mindset to find an immediate cure. It’s to delay onset. 

Q: Why would employers opt in to such a program?

A:It’s inexpensive, and you don’t have to do it for an hour a day. An employer can give 15 minutes, but they’re not going to give an hour. The goal is to lower stress over time, help prevent burnout and reduce turnover among frontline staff.