Posts made in August 2017

Reducing Health Care Burnout: Preventive Tips for Organizations & Caregivers

Reducing Health Care Burnout: Preventive Tips for Organizations & Caregivers

Working in the healthcare industry can be both gratifying and challenging. The unrelenting chronic stress of being exposed to life and death issues, long hours and loads of work can progressively evolve into burnout. If fact, the odds are pretty high that burnout will affect every healthcare professional at some point in their career. Burnout is defined as the consequence of mental and physical exhaustion that is caused by stress resulting in depersonalization and a profound decrease in personal accomplishment.1

Working in this high-stress industry can become emotionally draining, especially when hospitals are understaffed; the caregiver can begin to experience emotional exhaustion, and fatigue. All of this can lead caregivers to an emotional detachment from their work and to begin to see patients as objects, thereby reducing the safety and quality of care provided.

According to a study by NSI Nursing Solutions, the average national turnover rate among all hospital healthcare workers is 16.5%. And the costs are high:

  • Each additional percentage point increase in turnover can cost the average hospital another $359,650
  • It takes hospitals between 36 to 97 days to hire a replacement for an experienced RN
  • The average cost of turnover for a bedside RN ranges between $44,380 and $63,4002

To prevent burnout, employers should create a culture that sustains resilience and supports employee wellbeing. It’s important to take the time to identify the signs and symptoms of burnout, some of which may include:

  • Chronic emotional and physical fatigue
  • Reduced feelings of sympathy or empathy
  • Poor work-life balance
  • Depersonalization
  • Hypersensitivity or complete insensitivity to emotional material
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and other loved ones
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Feeling blue, irritable, hopeless, and helpless
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Getting sick more often
  • Irritability3,4

How Organizations Can Prevent Burnout

As a healthcare employer, there are things your organization can do to help your providers stay healthy and succeed:

  • Take an active role: Know your employees’ concerns – Provide a forum for feedback and address problems before they get to a unrecoverable level.
  • Encourage breaks: Taking breaks helps employees walk away from stress ensuring that the staff is not overworking themselves to the point of burnout.
  • Support healthy habits: Implementing health and wellness programs can be invaluable and they don’t have to cost a lot money to be effective. Include healthy recipes in your newsletters, sponsor workout classes, create a relaxation room, or offer meditation classes.5

How Caregivers Can Prevent Burnout

As a caregiver, adopting healthy behaviors can prevent compassion fatigue and burnout:

Take Time to Care for Yourself

Practicing good self-care will significantly help your resilience and reduce your vulnerability to stress.

  • Balanced, healthy diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Routine schedule of restful sleep
  • Balance between work and personal life
  • Drink alcohol in moderation

Adopt Positive Coping Strategies

Positive coping strategies can be used at work or at home to help ease your response to stressful situations.

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Taking a walk
  • Talking with a friend
  • Relaxing in a hot bath

If you still feel that you are not getting enough out of mindful techniques, and are still feeling emotionally vulnerable, chronically stressed and overwhelmed, seek help. Seeing a therapist can help you process your feelings and put things in better perspective, which can help you successfully implement the strategic techniques that will help you move toward a healthy work-life balance.6


References

  1. https://psychcentral.com/lib/identifying-and-reducing-burnout-among-healthcare-professionals/
  2. https://www.tinypulse.com/blog/sk-employee-retention-strategies-for-healthcare
  3. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/caregiving-recognizing-burnout
  4. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/the-cost-of-caring-10-ways-to-prevent-compassion-fatigue-0209167
  5. http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/7-tips-preventing-staff-burnout-healthcare
  6. https://wire.ama-assn.org/ama-news/burnout-busters-how-boost-satisfaction-personal-life-practice
Traveling with Diabetes: Tips for Before, During, and After You Arrive

Traveling with Diabetes: Tips for Before, During, and After You Arrive

Don’t let diabetes stop you from taking your dream vacation. Traveling with diabetes doesn’t have to be complicated if you keep in mind these tips and plan accordingly. When planning a trip or vacation, there are a few things that you need to make sure you have checked off your list before you go! Preparing for your trip can help give you peace of mind and help you from running into any tricky situations with your diabetes.

Planning

  1. See your doctor.
    The first step before heading out it to see your doctor. Confirm with your health care professional that you are in good health to travel and that your diabetes is under control. Schedule the exam with enough time to work on your control before you leave. Ask your doctor for prescriptions if you need them, in order to be prepared.
  2. Ask for documentation.
    Request from your physician a note or document that shows your diabetes diagnosis and your need to pack medications.
  3. Ensure you have ample supply of your medication.
    You should always have enough medication to last you through your trip. The American Diabetes Association recommends that you carry twice as much medication as your trip would last.
  4. Pack a healthy snack.
    Always have a well-wrapped snack bag with peanut butter, whole fruit, juice box (for low blood glucose), and whole grain crackers for regulation of blood sugar. You want to make sure that you are always prepared to treat low glucose.
  5. Make a checklist.
    Be sure that you have a final checklist of items that you need and present this checklist to your physician for medical approval. Have your health care professional suggest anything else he or she recommends you bring.
  6. Consider the time zone changes.
    If you are wearing an insulin pump and will be traveling to a location in another time zone, be sure to adjust your insulin pump to reflect that time change!
  7. Bring your insurance card.
    Keep your card and any emergency contact numbers you might need on your trip.

Flying

  1. Plan your meals around your flight.
    If you have a long flight, make sure that you eat a proper healthy meal before and after your flight.
  2. Stay hydrated.
    Make sure you carry bottles of water with you during your flight to stay properly hydrated!
  3. Pack your medications in your carry on. Luggage can easily get misplaced and you wouldn’t want to be without your medication. Bring all prescription labels for medication and pack the medications in separate clear, sealable bags. Bags that are placed in your carry-on-luggage need to be removed and separated from your other belongings for screening.
  4. Manage your stress and arrive to the airport 2-3 hours prior to flight.
  5. Carry or wear medical identification and carry contact information for your health care professional.
  6. Pack any extra healthy snacks and supplies.
  7. Take breaks. If the seatbelt light gets turned off, take a few minutes to walk around. If allowed, stand and stretch in the aisle to help reduce the risk for blood clots.

Road Trip

  1. Pack a cooler of healthy foods like whole, fresh fruits, hard boiled eggs, nuts, and whole grain crackers.
  1. Pack your insulin. You will want to have your medications on hand and stored in a cool, dry place.
  2. Take breaks. It is crucial that you make sure you stop every hour or two and walk around. This will help reduce your risk for blood clots!

When You Arrive

  1. Take it easy.
    Traveling can be taxing on the body. When you arrive to your destination, check your blood glucose and relax your body for a few hours.
  2. Plan your activities.
    Make sure that you are planning your activities so that you can be on a routine of insulin checks and meals.
  3. Stay hydrated.
    Be sure to pack an adequate amount of water and liquids for you to stay hydrated. Be wary of drinking any tap water or ice cubes when overseas.
  4. Wear comfortable shoes.
    This is especially important for those who will be walking or hiking on their getaway. Check your feet daily for blisters, cuts or swelling. If you see a sign of inflammation, get medical care.
  5. Note local hospitals and pharmacies.
    In case of an emergency, know where to go! Take note of the closest medical centers.

For more information on traveling with diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association website.


References

Practice the Power of Positive Thinking

Practice the Power of Positive Thinking

Experts continue to find evidence that our thoughts — positive and negative — don’t just have psychological effects, they also have physical effects on our body. Advantages of positive thinking include less stress, better overall physical and emotional health, longer life span, and better coping skills. Follow the practices highlighted here for four to six weeks to improve your positive thinking skills. Don’t give up. Remember, you are worth it!

A positive self-image is key to living a happy and healthy life. Research shows that people who feel confident in themselves can problem solve and make better decisions, take more risks, assert themselves, and strive to meet their personal goals.

Pay Attention to Your Thoughts

One technique that will help you think more positively is to become aware of your negative “self talk” and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Sometimes we imagine the worst in situations or about ourselves and often are unaware of the negative thoughts.

  • Positive thoughts are those that make us feel good about our progress. Take time to praise yourself for the little things.
  • It is important to actively think about what you are feeling and how it is portrayed in your life. Try to catch yourself thinking a negative thought, and say “STOP” to redirect yourself to positive thoughts.
  • Work on replacing negative self-talk with positive words. For example, replace “I hate getting up in the morning,” with “I am grateful for a new day.”
  • Write down negative thoughts. Carry a small pad throughout your day and jot down negative thoughts whenever you notice them.
  • Evaluate relationships in your personal and work life, and surround yourself with those who are also positive and support you.
  • Develop positive statements to replace negative ones using words such as happy, peaceful, loving, enthusiastic, and warm.
  • Avoid negative words such as worried, frightened, upset, tired, bored, not, never, and can’t.
  • Remember to smile, it’s contagious!

Nourish Your Body and Mind

The basic human desire is to feel loved, and sometimes that love comes from within. And to love ourselves fully, we must incorporate healthy habits into our lives for a nourished body, mind and soul. A few ways you can nourish your body are by exercising, eating healthy foods, stretching and connecting to others. A few ways to nourish your mind are to do a mind puzzle, meditate, breathe deeply, and laugh. These activities in conjunction nourish both the body and mind simultaneously to improve positive thinking and a positive outlook.

  • Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.
  • Be your body’s best friend and supporter, not its enemy.
  • Wear comfortable clothes that you like, that express your personal style, and that feel good to your body.
  • Count your blessings, not your blemishes.
  • Before you go to bed each night, write about how you treated yourself well during the day.

Give Back & Help Others

Giving back has a positive effect on your body and will make you feel great. Studies show that when people donated to charity, the portion of the brain responsible for feelings of reward were triggered. The brain also releases feel-good chemicals and spurs you to perform more kind acts. Giving back can also improve your self-esteem, sense of belonging, and make you feel more thankful and appreciative of what you have.

  • Volunteer at a food bank or local community service project.
  • Donate old clothing or household items to a local drive, Goodwill, or Salvation Army.
  • Offer to help a neighbor or family member in need.
  • Perform one intentional act of kindness.
  • Donate blood.
  • Cook for someone in need.
  • Participate in a local walk to raise money for a charity or condition (ie. Diabetes walk).
  • Clean up the environment.

Build Your Inner Confidence

Having a low self-esteem or feeling bad about yourself may prevent you from doing the things you love. In addition, low self-esteem may hinder the development of healthy relationships with your family and friends. People with a poor self-esteem are more likely to experience declined physical and mental health that affects their daily lives leading to stress and anxiety.

  • Replace the word ‘can’t’ with ‘can.’
  • Replace the word ‘try’ with ‘will.’
  • Focus on the present.
  • Make a list of your current wants and desires and what you will do to achieve them.
  • Set aside a specific time each day for you.
  • Invest in yourself – sign up for a class or workshop.
  • Look for the good in things.
  • Make signs that say positive thoughts and place them in places where you will see them often.

Create Affirming Lists

Make lists, reread them often to help you feel more positive about yourself. Write affirming lists into your journal or a piece of paper, like:

  • 5 of your strengths, for example, persistence, courage, friendliness, creativity.
  • 5 things you admire about yourself, for example the way you have raised your children, your good relationship with your brother, or your spirituality.
  • 5 greatest achievements in your life so far, like recovering from a serious illness, or learning to use a computer.
  • 10 things you can do to make yourself laugh.
  • 10 things you could do to help someone else.

 Talk Back to Negative Thoughts

Here are some examples that can help you keep setbacks in proper perspective when negative thoughts come to mind. In general, catch yourself! Think, “I am being negative about myself.” Say “Stop!” to yourself. Say it out loud. Picture a huge, red stop sign.


Negative Thought: Foods are Either ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’ 

  • “I can never eat dessert again.”
  • “Look at what I did. I ate that cake. I will never do well.”

Positive Thought: Work Toward Balance 

  • “I can eat dessert and cut back on something else.”
  • “One slip-up is not the end of the world. I can get back on track.”

Negative Thought: Excuses 

  • “It is too cold to take a walk.”
  • “I don’t have the willpower.”

Positive Thought: It’s Worth a Try 

  • “I can go for a walk and stop if it gets too cold.”
  • “It is hard to change old habits, but I will start with small steps and progress slowly but surely!”

Negative Thought: Should 

  • “I should have eaten less dessert.”
  • “I haven’t written down everything I eat.”

Positive Thought: It’s My Choice 

  • “It is my choice. Next time I can decide not to eat so much.”
  • “I’m writing down everything I eat because it helps me eat better.”

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/pdf/handout_session11.pdf
  2. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/20-ways-love-your-body
  3. http://www.wfm.noaa.gov/workplace/Happy_Handout_2.pdf

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