How can palliative care leaders aid their institution’s efforts to respond to the ongoing and profound impact of COVID-19 on the emotional well-being of their clinical and non-clinical workers? How can they participate while respecting their team’s capacity to contribute to these larger organization-wide efforts? One way is by collaborating with the individuals charged with addressing employee wellbeing.

Here are five tips to help launch partnerships between palliative care leaders and wellness officers:

  • Identify and reach out to the individual(s) responsible for supporting employee emotional health during COVID. Health care institutions are increasingly designating trained professionals to oversee these initiatives, including creating Chief Wellness Officer positions at the c-suite level. Your institution’s HR department, Chief Medical Officer, or Chief Nursing Officer can identify the individual, group, or team working on employee support efforts.
  • Assure the individual(s) has a baseline understanding of what palliative care is and your program’s scope. Define palliative care as specialized medical care for people with serious illness that is provided along with regular disease treatment at any stage of illness. Describe your program’s interdisciplinary staffing and the services they offer.
  • Explain how the goals of palliative care align with those of the organization’s wellness initiatives. Palliative care clinicians are trained to provide an extra layer of support to their colleagues. Their communication skills, focus on quality of life, and understanding of emotional needs are critical competencies in the COVID era, and palliative care teams can often provide helpful time-sparing patient-support efforts (such as facilitating difficult patient and family conversations) that assist the overworked primary clinical team at the bedside.
  • Describe your existing approaches to supporting well-being. Share your established materials, processes and procedures and explore how your efforts can be brought to scale for the good of all employees through the wellness department’s channels. Ask for a seat at the table of organization-wide discussions about COVID-related emotional health.

Introduce the wellness officer or team to CAPC’s Emotional PPE resources included in its COVID-19 Resource Response Hub. CAPC’s easily accessible curated tools on Coping in Crisis, Clinician Grief, Team Health and Organizational Wellness are designed to address the needs of health care leaders, managers, clinicians and staff.

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