A common goal amongst healthcare professionals is to promote and protect the health and well-being of patients. A mindful approach must also be taken to help make your team members feel supported and safe – especially during these uncertain times.
As restrictions continue to ease and practices reopen further across the country, the stress of adjusting to the new normal is very real. While day-to-day practice operations have been subject to drastic change, the level of compassion and quality of care needs to remain the same.
By now, we’re all well aware of the necessary steps that must be taken for practices to operate safely, including eliminating or reducing physical contact as much as possible between team member and patients, following proper PPE guidelines, and adhering to strict infection prevention and control (IPAC) protocols and procedures. But the feeling of safety does not come from a prepared practice alone. Times of crisis offer an opportunity to strengthen trust with team members and patients, which not only promotes their greater well-being, but can also contribute to the overall success of your practice.
It’s your job as a leader to manage and normalize stress during uncertain times. Simply by acknowledging the challenges associated with the pandemic will help your team members and patients feel the sense of ease they are looking for when they come into your practice. Taking the time to listen and validate to their fears and concerns will help build trust and improve the workplace environment and morale in the long-term.
You also have a duty to promote open and honest communication within your practice. Effective communication involves keeping both your team members and patients informed about any changes that will impact them. Encourage them to ask questions and ensure that you’re willing and able to provide clear answers. Don’t be afraid of over-communicating through times of stress. The more your patients and team members know, the more they will trust you, and feel trusted in return.
It’s also essential to keep your patients and team members informed of all the necessary changes your practice is making to help keep them safe. Adequately train your staff and educate your patients on any new protocols and procedures that have been implemented, and how they serve to protect everyone’s safety. By clearly explaining not just what has changed, but why it has changed, will ultimately help them adjust to new ideas and successfully adapt to change. At the end of the day, the only way that your team members and patients will feel truly safe is if the agreed-upon guidelines and procedures are respected and followed by everyone in the practice.
It’s important to not lose sight of your humanity and to show compassion during these stressful times. A successful leader must strive to channel challenges into positive actions and strategies that will protect and support the well-being of your patients and team members. You have worked hard to build meaningful relationships in your practice, and it’s vital to nurture them by showing that you care.
As a leader, the weight of this pandemic carries heavy. But remember, you’re a leader for a reason. Now is the time to use your honed skills to make your patients and team members feel protected. Stay up-to-date on any new information that arises, and communicate regularly with your team about what you’re learning and how you’re responding to it. When team members feel safe, they present their energy in positive ways, which might be exactly what your practice needs right now.