Ideas for Hospice Team Support

Question: What are your ideas for supporting and learning from other members of the hospice team?

Life today seems so hectic. We are balancing career, family, social and often civic or religious activities, even trying to get some structured exercise in this packed 24 hours, not to mention sleep. On this gerbil wheel of activity how can we possibly squeeze in time to support or teach others in our work environment? Luckily kindness, connection, and camaraderie don’t really take that much time as we rush through our busy lives.

My husband and I were having a heated discussion one time when he said, “You know, you wouldn’t talk to a stranger the way you just talked to me.” He was right. We seem to give strangers and our patients our best (looks, words, attitude) and those we care about most, and that includes our coworkers, our least effort.

It doesn’t take much time to stop after a team meeting and inquire how a team member is doing after hearing about a particularly challenging situation. It doesn't take a lot of effort to smile and say hello to every person you see in the office.

When I was working in an agency, before we headed home on Friday nights, a group of us hospice workers met at a local pub for a glass of wine (or margarita). We shared our week, our concerns, our laughter and sometimes our tears.

At another hospice we met for breakfast once a week. Whoever could be there was. It was an opportunity to informally connect and share. We spent a couple of weekends together at the lake to just play and revive. Hospices were smaller then and it was easier to manage patient coverage and the number of people involved. When the numbers get too large getting everyone together becomes like herding cats. Still, it can be done. Think in terms of individual team building when the agency has multiple teams.

It would be a wise hospice that has yearly retreats and at least monthly supportive events for their staff. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It just has to be a safe, caring, relaxing environment where people can unwind, share, laugh and cry. PS: If it gets too structured it seems to feel less emotionally safe.

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