Management Skill Requirement: Work on Staff Resilience

Janet Feldkamp, RN, BSN, LNHA, CHC, JD

At this point, all workers in long-term care—from administrators to clinical staff to support staff—are exhausted, says Janet Feldkamp, RN, BSN, LNHA, CHC, JD, a partner in the Benesch Healthcare+ Practice Group at Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff in Columbus, OH.

“People are struggling. They are leaving the industry because there are so many challenges, and it seems likely to get worse before it gets better. After Thanksgiving, this winter could be dark for many nursing homes—even rougher than it is now.”

To ensure staff have a mindset that allows them to navigate the challenges of 2021 and focus on the care they provide to residents, it’s important for managers to look out for the positive welfare of staff, as well as residents, suggests Feldkamp. “Your staff may have lost residents they loved, co-workers, or even their own family members to COVID-19. Even the constant stream of changes from federal and state authorities is contributing to employee stress. You have to care for them and guide them to access resources that can help them cope.”

Directors of nursing services and other postacute-care managers can use the following tools and resources to help staff reduce stress and build resilience and joy in work:

COVID-19 Behavioral Health and Staff Resiliency Resources

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in Boston has created the Conversation and Action Guide to Support Staff Well-Being and Joy in Work During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic (available for free with registration). This guide gives DNSs and other nurse managers leadership strategies, including do’s, don’ts, and actionable ideas to test, to build a resilient team whose members can sustain joy at work.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) in Silver Spring, MD, offers the 60-minute webinar, Mental Health Support: How to Survive the Pandemic With an Unbroken Spirit, as part of its free (with registration) COVID-19 Video Education Series. Six shorter break-out videos are also available (without registration) at the same site, including How to Build Resiliency and Suicide Prevention Strategies.

The ANA Well-Being Initiative provides free tools and resources, including a stress self-assessment, to support nurses’ mental health and build their resilience.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the resource page, Healthcare Personnel and First Responders: How to Cope with Stress and Build Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at the CDC offers the online NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours. While not specific to COVID-19, the training does educate nurses and managers about health and safety risks associated with shift work and long hours and offers both workplace and personal strategies to mitigate those risks.

The National Emerging Special Pathogen Training and Education Center (NETEC) has the June 24 webinar, Resiliency: Riding the WAVE of COVID-19.

Nebraska Medicine in Omaha offers a COVID-19 Workforce Behavioral Health Support page. This site includes access to the April 20 webinar, Pandemic Response Resilience Workshop, which was the precursor to the June 24 NETEC webinar and includes a Resilience Roadmap to help healthcare workers identify stressors and techniques for building resilience, as well as other resources.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE) offers multiple behavioral health resources, including:

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