Keeping nurses safe is the #1 way to honor their work and let them know how much you value them. Ensuring that they always have personal protective equipment (PPE), that they can get tested if they think they have COVID-19 — these measures go a long way.
Unfortunately, this can be easier said than done in many hospitals. Hospital leaders are doing everything they can, but there is still a nationwide shortage of PPE and tests.
However, whether a hospital is scrambling for masks or has a completely full stockroom of them, there are two things that haven’t changed:
- Nurses are amazing.
- It’s National Nurses Week
In honor of National Nurses Week and the incredible job that nurses do year-round — and particularly now — here are ways hospitals can celebrate nurses who are putting their lives on the line during this time.
Recognize nurses. Gratitude is always important and this is not a time to forget that. After a long day of comforting scared patients or keeping patients comfortable as they succumb to COVID-19, a simple “thank-you” might not make them feel 100% better — but it can still go a long way.
Nominate nurses for awards. Another way to recognize your nurses is to keep up with nominating them for awards like the DAISY Award (a national award that honors extraordinary nurses who have gone above and beyond). Even if you can’t do a full recognition celebration like you normally would, present them with the award in your office or in a Zoom meeting. That recognition confirms to nurses that what they’re doing is making a difference.
Take care of nurses’ mental health needs. COVID-19 is a collective trauma that the entire nation is going through, and nurses are no exception. Watching the pandemic unfold directly in front of their eyes is sure to take a significant toll on their mental health.
Boosting Your Nurses’ Mental Health During COVID-19
- Remind them of mental health resources available.
- Place emotional support counselors around the hospital in strategic breakroom locations.
- Provide 24/7 emotional support and consider offering it to nurses’ families, too.
- Suggest apps (Calm or Headspace) to promote relaxation, rejuvenation, and mindfulness.
- Allow for group wellness breaks where staff stretch and do breathing exercises.
- Set up peer support groups via video chat.
- Offer free downloadable yoga videos or guided meditations via podcast to access anytime.
Encourage self-care. Nurses are even busier than usual during this time, but that doesn’t mean they should let self-care fall onto the backburner. Emphasize to nurses that they need to take breaks and eat full meals. Provide food so that they have meals ready for them whenever they can get a break. Some restaurants like Sweetgreen and organizations like Pizza vs. Pandemic are donating meals to healthcare workers, so check out these resources if you’re on a tight budget.
Offer reassurance. Reassure nurses that nothing has changed in terms of paid time off (as long as that’s true!). That might not be at the top of anyone’s mind at the moment, but it’s a reminder that you value them — and that when they get a chance, no one is going to judge them for taking that vacation time they so deserve.
Provide resources for childcare and pet care. With longer or more stressful workdays than ever before, and with schools and daycare centers closed, one of the biggest concerns among nurses is making sure that their kids and fur babies are being cared for. Look for resources in your area that are matching families up with nannies and pet sitters, or services that are offering discounted rates, and share these with nurses.
At some hospitals, nursing students who are stuck at home have offered to do some free babysitting, so this might be something to look into.
Go right to the source. Ask nurses what they need and about what’s stressing them out. Nurses are often self-reliant and don’t always ask for help when they need it. Just because they don’t voice a concern doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. And once you have asked, make sure that nurses know that they’ve been heard. Include them in decision-making processes whenever possible. Give them multiple ways to give feedback, such as prompts within support groups or anonymous suggestion boxes.
Be flexible. You might have great plans in place for helping nurses during a crisis, but remember that things change constantly. Always be on the lookout for potential challenges or roadblocks that nurses may be facing, and be open to creating new opportunities to help.
Nurses are strong, resilient, and incredibly hard workers when it’s just a normal day in the hospital. But during the pandemic, their dedication and passion shine through even more. So remember to celebrate them and everything they do — during this time, and always.