PLD News

Summary of Dr. Christine Korol’s April 9 Webinar

April 21, 2020

This summary of the webinar “Supporting the Well-Being of Healthcare Workers on the Front Line of the Covid-19 Crisis” presented by Dr. Christine Korol, has been prepared by Brenda Lammi, VP, Professional and Leadership Development at CCHL. The following categorizes Dr. Korol’s tips (framed with the LEADS domains) on how health leaders can support their teams to minimize impact and prevent trauma while working for prolonged periods in a crisis.

Lead Self

Tips for leaders to show up ‘strong’ at work:

  • Apologize when you make a mistake, this will build trust
  • Do a ‘tone check’ on your messages with a third party (especially because you’re tired and everyone is a bit testy) to be sure that the tone of your message is what you intend
  • Show up on the frontlines
  • Take space to process your feelings, take breaks (prevent your own vicarious trauma)
  • Consult with peers on decisions and actions ( CCHL is offering free group coaching for members)
  • Mindfulness training and psychotherapy sessions to help you release your judgement of certain situations and build trust in your capacity to cope with what you are facing

Engage Others

Tips for leaders to build trust with frontline employees:

  • Create a communications plan. This will help to keep staff healthy, well-balanced and to prevent trauma.
  • Plan meetings and have staff talk about their fears, be honest and transparent in your responses
  • Send out surveys to give staff a voice to provide suggestions and problem-solve
  • Consistently send the message that things are changing daily and that you are doing the best you can with the information you have, that you share the common goal of everyone staying healthy
  • Explicitly ask employees to give you the benefit of the doubt and if something isn’t landing well that they reach out to you for clarification
  • Work on your assertive communication skills, balancing being strong while also being kind. Channel individuals you admire (i.e., Barack Obama)

Achieve Results

The easiest way to support staff and prevent trauma is to help them meet their basic needs. Some tips include:

  • Have groceries available to staff (staples like milk, cereal, fruit, vegetables, etc.)
  • Have a plan to keep families safe, either with childcare or providing alternative places to sleep
  • Provide massage and/or physiotherapy services to frontline staff
  • Increase psychotherapy benefits (extend benefits if possible)
  • Arrange for spiritual care
  • Provide opportunities to exercise

Eliminate non-medical workloads will help prevent trauma, exhaustion and frustration in frontline staff. Tips include:

  • Have mental health professionals in place to assist the families of those in critical care or who have died instead of the medical staff
  • Provide increased security to support medical staff manage the public
  • Provide administrative support to do administrative tasks and to manage the e-health transitions that are happening rapidly so that the medical staff do not need to learn a new task in the midst of the crisis
  • Ensure staff are working within their scope

Tips for health leaders to reduce moral distress include:

  • Have clear protocols in place (i.e., who is eligible for a ventilator, a te
  • Have clear protocols in place (i.e., who is eligible for a ventilator, a terrible protocol to put in place, but this removes the decisions from individual physicians)
  • Address resource challenges, show your staff that you are working to move equipment around and be transparent on your actions to find resources
  • Encourage peer/mentor consultation (CCHL Group Coaching and mentorship program)
  • Encourage mindfulness and acceptance training for employees

Develop Coalitions

Collaborating with others to promote well-being and prevent trauma in staff is essential. Tips include:

  • Work with massage therapists and physiotherapists to provide services to frontline employees
  • Increase consultation with ethicists and risk management; contract more experts if needed so that roundtable discussions can be held or to improve access to experts
  • Connect with related associations on resources to support staff (i.e., Canadian Nurses Association, Canadian Medical Association, CCHL)

Systems Transformation

Considering the environment within which you work can have immediate and long-term benefits on the well-being of staff. Tips include:

  • Provide massage chairs and/or a quiet space
  • Provide better places to sleep (and permit staff to do so)
  • Provide access to a sacred space