Self-care is a topic that earns a lot of attention, although many of us are guilty of not enacting this mindful practice in our own lives. This is particularly true of nurses and caregivers, compassionate individuals who often prioritize the care needs of others above their own.
As COVID-19 continues to disrupt care within assisted living facilities, it is vital that nurses and caregivers at these organizations prioritize their own mental well-being. This week, as we celebrate National Assisted Living Week, let’s remind these individuals that we care about their self-care, that we are here to lend and ear, a shoulder, an afternoon.
As an active nurse and current chief nursing officer at Netsmart, I know firsthand how hectic a nurse’s job can be, know the demands that accompany the uniform, know how little time we nurses and caregivers dedicate to caring for ourselves.
I love being a nurse, but, as any nurse will tell you, the job has its share of challenges that can hinder work-life balance, jeopardize job satisfaction and negatively impact personal health.
Over my 27-year career in nursing and healthcare technology, I’ve unearthed a few vital strategies assisted living nurses can enact to ensure they are caring for themselves just as diligently as they care for their residents.
This is one of the biggest traps nurses fall into. We are often so busy we sometimes lose track of what we say ‘yes’ to. Because we want to be team players and help our peers, we jump into extra work without stopping to assess our workload.
Here’s a simple tip that can help enormously. Grab a sheet of paper. Across the top, write whatever it is you have a hard time saying ‘no’ to in regard to your job (e.g. taking extra shifts). Draw a line down the middle, making two columns. Label one column ‘yes’ and the other ‘no.’ Each time you’re asked to come in for an extra shift, pull out your list. Keep track so that you are able to balance how much extra time you spend working. This can also apply to home life, helping balance family, work and leisure.
2. Tighten focus on what matters most
While there are a host of factors that negatively impact a nurse’s job satisfaction, let’s start with the four-letter word that seems to be associated most with dissatisfaction: time.
Overwhelmingly, most nurses feel they are unable to spend the amount of time they’d like with their residents. That’s because nurses are being asked to do things outside their licensure like typing extensive notes into electronic health records (EHRs), mastering different technology and keeping up-to-date with regulatory policies.
It’s important that nurses work with an easy-to-use EHR system and use digital tools that help them, not burden them.
Finally, remove the biggest burdens in a nurse’s day: Eliminate duplicate data entry, decrease documentation time and remove click fatigue. Doing so will give nurses what they truly desire, more time for resident care and ease of mind that they are doing the right thing for their residents.
3. Embrace mobile solutions
Nurses feel more satisfied with their jobs when they have tools that make their job easier. Let’s give them tools they are already using: their mobile phones.
Mobile phones and tablets allow nurses to document at the point of care, rather than after their shift or at home. With nurses providing more care in peoples’ homes, it’s essential that nurses have access to mobile technology solutions. Working more efficiently makes all of us feel better and more satisfied. Nurses are no exception, and mobile technology is a key way to achieve more efficiency on the job.
While nurses and caregivers have manned the front lines in the fight against COVID-19, it is now our turn to support them. Nurses are the heart and soul of healthcare. In this time when the emotional toll on assisted living caregivers is higher than ever before, we must help these individuals shoulder the burden, making their self-care an extension of our own.
Thank you to all the nurses and caregivers for all that you do.
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