Patient Experience Imperatives As Caregivers Face Unprecedented Pandemic Pressures

<p>There is no shortage of stress in any healthcare setting due to the complexities around diagnosing, treating, rehabilitating, and preventing illness and injury.&nbsp;Caregivers in all roles are used to the daily need to balance the often conflicting priorities from patients, families, regulations, training, technology, finances and staffing.&nbsp;The COVID-19 pandemic has now rushed to the top of the priority list while most ongoing priorities remain in place.&nbsp;The unprecedented pressure on all caregivers to respond to a highly contagious disease with no current cure adds a crucial need for staff to balance new complexities while maintaining the commitment to do no harm and provide exceptional care experiences. Although there is no playbook for this current virus crisis, the commitment to providing the best care experience, one that is first safe and that exceeds the expectations of each patient remains in place.&nbsp;As the pandemic pressures unfold over the coming months, caregivers will likely have times where they feel depleted physically, emotionally, and psychologically.&nbsp;A workforce that&rsquo;s depleted typically has difficulty tending to the diverse needs and wishes of patients.&nbsp;The following are some suggested imperatives that when implemented, can help protect the patient experience in a time of new levels of pressure:</p><p>1-<strong>Identify stress reduction opportunities</strong> for staff to counter the effects of long shifts and demands.&nbsp;Consider massage chairs, relaxation rooms, and hydration support to support physical and mental health.</p><p>2-<strong>Continue to communicate desired behaviours</strong>&nbsp;that support exceptional experiences and be sure that senior leaders are aligned in these messages.&nbsp;Key patient experience frameworks that all staff should understand include:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><em>Safety is the foundation of all we do.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Children are not small adults.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>&nbsp;Being fully present with each patient is a promise.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Listening to what&rsquo;s said and observing what&rsquo;s unsaid is important to meet needs.</em></p><p><em>Reassurance should be part of every patient interaction.</em><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Frontline staff insights on ways to improve the experience are important and reviewed regularly.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Strengthening a patient-centered culture is more important than chasing scores.</em></p><p>3-<strong>Pay special attention to high volume departments</strong> such as Urgent Care and the Emergency Department to identify ways patients have to sacrifice or suffer while in your care and look for innovative solutions to reduce any areas of sacrifice or suffering. Consider having staff working remotely in group conferences to identify and prioritize pain-point solutions. These groups might also consider a rapid policy review to determine if any policies in place prior to the pandemic impact should be revised or removed to enhance the experience for patients and their families and staff.</p><p>4-<strong>Deliberately design efforts to manage patient expectations</strong>&nbsp;prior to procedures or admission so that expectations are not unreasonable based on the policies, medical guidelines, or resources available.&nbsp;Caring and frequent communication including &ldquo;WHAT and WHY&rdquo; can prevent misaligned expectations and disappointment during and after the care event.</p><p>5-&nbsp;<strong>Thoughtfully and frequently show appreciation to all workers</strong>&nbsp;and continue to nurture a sense of shared pride as workers face pandemic pressures. Healthcare is a noble profession often requiring personal sacrifice unlike any other industry.&nbsp;As part of a commitment to maintaining an exceptional employee experience, adopt a goal of making every team member feel&nbsp;<em>important&nbsp;</em>and&nbsp;<em>valued</em>&nbsp;including those who are now working remotely. Senior leaders should be visible and make time to recognize and celebrate the contributions at the bedside and throughout the entire organization since those who feel they have influence, are appreciated and hopeful are better prepared to provide exceptional caring.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p>
KR Expert - Diane Stover-Hopkins