Transforming Healthcare – From the Inside Out
Healthcare is more than a career, it’s a calling. Unfortunately, for many healthcare providers it’s also a source of stress and burnout. Research tells a story that is both disturbing and compelling. According to research summarize by the Public Services Health and Safety Association:
- The average number of days of work lost due to illness or disability was at least 1.5 times greater for workers in health care than the average for all workers.
- Healthcare workers have the highest frequency of violence and aggression-related injuries of any occupation, representing nearly 67% of all violence-related injury claims to the WSIB in 2009.
- 28% of Ontario nurses report being assaulted by their patients in the last 12 months.
- A 2008 study of personal support workers in long-term care in Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia found that 43 per cent experienced physical violence on a daily basis.
- Approximately 46 per cent of Canadian physicians reported they were in advanced stages of burnout.
An unhealthy work environment impacts the quality of patient care. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) continues to provide evidence that caregiver workload is related to patient safety, working conditions affect medication safety, and caregiver stress and fatigue have strong effects on skills and error rates.
This issue is multi-factorial and complex. A healthy work environment is critical to well-being and job satisfaction and essential for quality patient care. Unfortunately, healthcare restructuring, increased workloads, staff shortages, funding restrictions, diminished leadership and staff burnout continue to contribute to unsafe and unhealthy work environments.
Healthcare organizations are well advised to invest in cultivating healthy, safe, and supportive work-environments. Additionally, It’s essential for healthcare providers to invest in their own self-care, resiliency and healing, and research is promising. For example, research at the Centre for Mind-Body Medicine shows that mind-body skills groups (an experiential group program teaching mindfulness and self-care practices) are a highly valued experiential approach to teaching and promoting self-awareness, self-reflection, and self-care. Additionally, numerous studies published since 1960 demonstrate the efficacy of mind-body medicine techniques in lowering blood pressure and stress hormone levels, relieving pain and improving immune functioning, as well as improvements in clinical conditions such as HIV, cancer, insomnia, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With up to 80% of all illnesses related to chronic stress, tools for self-care are an essential part of a healthcare worker’s resiliency toolkit.
Erika Caspersen a Healthy Workplace Innovator, Engaging Facilitator, Success Coach, Registered Kinesiologist and Certified Exercise Physiologist. She is transforming healthcare by facilitating healing, self-care and resiliency for healthcare leaders and providers; reigniting passion and purpose in service and in life.