How to Improve Nurse Wellness at Your Facility: 5 Tips
Nurses comprise the largest portion of the U.S. healthcare labor force. When they experience a decline in their physical and mental health, it has a profound ripple effect on their patients, families, and organizations. Simply stated, your facility’s health depends on your commitment to nurse wellness.
As a healthcare leader, you should be encouraged by the fact that there are practical ways your facility can support nursing wellness. In this article, you’ll learn tips on cultivating a culture of wellness that will not only nurture the health and mental well-being of your nurses but will also plant the seeds for improved resident and facility outcomes.
Five Tips on How to Improve Nurse Wellness
1. Promote a Safe Work Environment
This is an excellent opportunity for you and your healthcare administrator to take stock of your organization’s work environment. Survey your nursing staff to assess if they feel safe working there and have an open discussion about any concerns they may have. You can’t nurture a healthy and positive work environment for nurse wellness if they don’t consider it safe.
Example: One way for your organization to work toward a healthy work environment is by incorporating the Nurses Bill Of Rights, drafted by the American Nurses Association (ANA), into your facility’s policies and procedures. Some topics of importance to address in achieving positive changes include:
- bullying and workplace violence
- safe patient handling and mobility
- opioid epidemic: prevention and treatment strategies for patients and nurses
- environmental health
- disaster preparedness and response
2. Develop a Nursing Wellness Program
Develop a committee with nursing leadership and nursing staff champions from each department, who will be responsible for designing and implementing your facility’s wellness program. Nurses are resourceful agents of change, invested in creating solutions — the key to creating a program that’s effective and meaningful to their colleagues.
By encouraging your nurses to lead this innovation, your facility demonstrates to them that you:
- listen to their collective voice
- care about their well-being
- are a committed partner in addressing their needs
As your nursing team lays down the necessary groundwork, your leadership remains essential to the program’s success. They’ll need your assistance in providing resources, which you’ll learn about in the next step, and financial support to plan, create, and endorse your facility’s wellness activities for nurses.
3. Recruit Help to Support Your Wellness Program
As your wellness team collaborates in creating a program for your facility nurses, they’ll likely need external health and wellness resources to support this initiative. The more strategies the team has to promote happiness and wellness, the more it will pique the interest of and engage your nursing staff.
- Utilize free tools to improve nursing well-being and resilience provided by the American Nurse Foundation
- Facilitate a meeting between your wellness team and your organization’s health plan account manager to determine how to incorporate their preventative and wellness services into your program.
- Contract a wellness instructor to teach your staff practical stress-reducing and health-promoting practices, such as box breathing, meditation, mindfulness, and yoga.
- Partner with a digital wellness company, such as TaskHuman, to offer your staff free online coaching to enrich their health and well-being while increasing engagement, productivity, and retention.
4. Incorporate Restorative Breaks
Providing your staff with breaks during their shifts to minimize prolonged stress (which negatively impacts physical and mental health) is an important aspect of nurse wellness. Restorative breaks, defined in an extensive research review as engaging in a physical and mental activity resulting in a relaxed state, were associated with multiple nurse health benefits.
These positive effects include:
- alleviating fatigue
- boosting short-term performance
- increasing alertness
- optimizing time management
- improving interactions with colleagues
- enhancing performance on several key performance indicators
- reducing risk of errors (the longer the breaks, the greater the benefit)
Example: Planting a garden on your facility grounds that nurses can visit during their breaks provides uninterrupted, therapeutic relief and a means to reduce emotional exhaustion. Gardening also helps senior adults’ mental, physical, and social health, which is an additional benefit for nursing homes and residences.
5. Enhance Scheduling Strategies
Having a sincere conversation about nursing wellness involves the discussion of nurse staffing. Nurses have shared that work-life balance and scheduling flexibility are among the top factors that make them happy and satisfied in their jobs. While this is often a challenging problem for most healthcare leaders to address, it helps you and the wellness team know where to prioritize and be creative in your solutions.
- Include four-hour shifts to your scheduling options to cover patient and resident assignments while nurses take meal and restorative breaks.
- Work with your team to optimize staffing when planning wellness activities to boost participation.
- Create a reliable float pool of nurses you can employ when your staffing needs change to avoid staffing shortages.
- Include one to two mental health and wellness days as a part of the nurse’s PTO benefits.
Stay Informed About Nurses’ Well-Being at Work
Now that you have insight into implementing nurse wellness at your facility, you’ll want to remain current on effective ways to help your team. Keep up-to-date on maintaining a healthy and positive work culture through IntelyCare’s healthcare newsletter.