One bad egg can spoil the bunch. And it’s not just eggs, is it?!
One colleague on a rampage, one employee stuck in a rut, one subordinate contaminating the minds of others – sadly, it happens all too frequently. And it matters – a lot!
To create quality practice environments, everyone needs to play full on so that we can have our best foot forward for our:
• Teams to function effectively.
• Facilities to run efficiently.
• Patients to be treated with dignity.
• Selves to be able to function with excellence.
We needn’t look further than the last, and possibly most important question, on the hallowed HCAPHPS* scores, to give us our cue. The patient is asked what is their ‘Likelihood to Recommend’. Patients can choose from the following answers: never, sometimes, usually, and always. Of course, always is the answer we are ‘always’ looking for. It is no exaggeration that our jobs may depend on it.
Think about your own experience in a hospital when you were not a caregiver but a patient or family member. You expected expertly delivered and safe care. You expected accurate diagnosis and timely treatment. But beyond that, what you notice is the manners in which the staff carry themselves, conduct themselves and treat you, your family and each other.
With that in mind, here are a few ideas for you to consider:
The truly toxic people must go. Period. Keep them and you will risk losing the great people instead. If this is your situation and you are not a manager, bring this to your manager. A file must be started, discipline must be taken and after 3 strikes – you’re out. Tough love must prevail here.
Find a way for different departments/wards to connect. Work to break down silos. An ‘us/them’ environment is potential for disaster. Even starting with a few people connecting will make a big difference. It’s a lot harder to be mad at people you like.
Find the fun, the funny. The facility that plays together delivers great care together. Patients can see and feel this spirit. Look for ways to pro-actively lighten up a hard job.
Appreciate someone at work everyday. Have a stack of blank note cards, or kindness tokens or stickers and use them daily to let someone know that they made your day easy or better. It could be a Doc who respected your suggestion, a colleague who complimented you or a patient who was very brave during a tough treatment or one who told you a funny story. It’s interesting – I don’t know anyone who is too old for a sticker!
Start where you are, with what you have, and start now. If you wait for all the stars to line up to start improving your practice environment – you may be waiting a long time. Things are not expected to be perfect but they can definitely be better tomorrow than they were today. Even if no one notices, even if you think it doesn’t matter, even if you are nervous to begin. Please – you start, you take the lead, you make a difference and watch the slow but steady changes that follow to create an institution that people will want to recommend, always.
*HCAHPS stands for Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, an instrument to measure patient perceptions of care that publicly reports hospital performance (quality of care as perceived by patients).