The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is a demanding, fast-paced, and overall stressful work environment, which causes nurses working in ICU to burn out relatively quickly. A study conducted in a single U.S. hospital found that 54% of nurses working in ICU scored "moderate to high" on the emotional exhaustion scale.
As the ICU nurses burn out, they will provide lower and lower quality patient care. A consultant for ICU can help evaluate the state of the nurses and provide recommendations on how staff morale can be boosted. After all, higher staff morale means that patient care will also improve. Here are three common recommendations that should be considered.
Encourage Staff Electronically and Set Up a System
In such a fast-paced work environment as the ICU, it can be difficult to get praise across, which is why many ICU nurses tend to feel burnt out on an emotional level. It's important that both managers and executives are able to compliment and encourage staff members directly. The best way of doing so without disrupting their work is to do so electronically. Set up an electronic system for nurses to get regular updates from their managers. Consultants for ICU will work with managers to develop an effective system in recognizing and sending out these encouragements.
It's also a good idea to send encouraging letters from patients that have been cared for by certain staff members. Set up electronic systems that will filter the mail for relevancy and sort the mail to the rightful recipient. Words of encouragement can ignite passion in the nurses and help them get through stressful and taxing days.
Encourage Managers to Swap Places with the Nurses
Most managers are generally more than qualified to take on the work of the nurses, which is why some consultants might recommend that the managers swap places with the nurses occasionally. For example, the managers might want to swap places with a different nurse once a month, and have the nurse attend their department meetings for them. This allows the attending nurses to get a better idea as to how the hospital is doing, and to stay in the loop.
This also tends to improve communication between managers, as they need to coordinate the event with their nurses. It's also a good way for managers to get input from the nurses. Keep in mind that their opinions and suggestions might be the most practical and relevant, as they are caring for patients on a daily basis.
Treat Staff Members to Lunches and Snacks
There's no better way to boost staff morale and to encourage staff members than by treating them to food, especially since their shifts can be so long and stressful. Once a month, have the managers plan a day when a lunch or a snack is provided by the hospital. If the department budget allows it, free pizza or even sushi can be a great motivator. In addition, the consultants will work with the corporate integrity department to determine whether it is possible for the hospital to pair with vendors. Some vendors provide free meals or free services that are pertinent and relevant to the services that ICU staff offer.
If pairing with a vendor is a no-go, consider hosting a potluck. Nothing brings everyone together as quickly and as easily as food. This will also be a great time to improve team spirit among the nurses.
The quality of patient care, the productiveness of the unit, and many other factors depend heavily on staff morale. Consultants for ICU often focus on how the staff members are doing and feeling. They will then come up with customized plans that will help boost staff morale and build a more tight-knit team that is ready to face any difficulties ahead.