Accountable Healthcare - Maintaining Unit Resilience During COVID-19
Skip to Main Content Skip to Menu Skip to Footer
August 21, 2020

Maintaining Unit Resilience During COVID-19

COVID-19 has presented us with challenges that most of us thought we would never experience in our lifetime. However, if working under such difficult conditions has taught us anything, it’s the power of teamwork and unconditional support for one another. 

While we are proud of how the nursing community has come together and risen up in a time of distress, it is also OK to admit that we may be feeling tired, overworked and worn out. This begs the question, in this unprecedented time, how can we continue to support ourselves while also promoting resilience in our unit? 

It’s important to take care of ourselves first. But what about our units as a whole? How can we build resilience as a team? 

First, I want to highlight two AACN CSI Academy projects – “Blow Out Burnout: Decreasing Turnover, Increasing Self-Care” and “Creating Resiliency and Improving Retention Among Nurses” – that focus on unit burnout and resilience. By providing support for family and staff, these units were able to reduce nurse turnover, improve job satisfaction, decrease depersonalization and increase nurse engagement. It’s kind of amazing that they were able to impact all of these factors by working on their own resilience! 

When thinking of ways to promote resilience on your own unit, I encourage you to use some of the tools these units used to create your own unique approach:

  • Use positive affirmations and kudos through bulletin boards and other creative ways to recognize your peers.
  • Implement Nurse Resiliency Rounds – a form of Schwartz Rounds – to allow nurses to debrief and share their feelings.
    • The resilience rounds should be led by a chaplain or a member of a moral distress or ethics team. Provide CEs for nurses, include a suggestion board for topics and bring snacks! 
  • While sharing and supporting each other as a team are good ways to tackle challenges, also consider using your hospital’s employee assistance program. 

In addition, AACN is hosting a webinar on Sept. 3, “Coaching Nurses on Building Resiliency in a Turbulent Time,” which will provide good information on how we can help each other to be resilient. 

For those difficult times when our patients die – especially if their family isn’t present, consider these supportive actions: 

  • Give the nurse who was providing the care a chance to breathe and reflect on the loss. Implementing “The Pause” helps everyone on the team stop and honor the person, and also take a breath.
  • Create memories for families that have a loved one on comfort care. That may include giving the families a fingerprint card, armband, lock of hair or an EKG strip. Follow up with a sympathy card a few weeks after the patient dies.

These two units took an innovative approach to tackle important issues of nurse turnover, burnout and satisfaction. Their work was, however, in pre-COVID-19 times, but I wonder if these ideas can still be implemented in today’s world? 

Taking a tip from these creative CSI projects, I offer you this challenge: What can you do to improve resilience on your unit that will last beyond COVID-19?

Article by: Amy Hamtak, BSN, RN, CCRN, CPTC