As health care workers of all stripes strain under the pressures brought on by the pandemic, Ohio’s Hospice and Pure Healthcare are collaborating on an initiative to combat stress and enhance staff health and wellness.
The program, called Cope & Hope, is available to the full staff of all Ohio’s Hospice member agencies. The program’s seeds were planted in late March as COVID-19 picked up speed and the nation went indoors. Mark Curtis, palliative care APRN at Pure Healthcare, approached the hospice group about working together on staff support.
“The idea for an Ohio’s Hospice and Pure Healthcare community support group came about as we began to see as a nation the devastating toll from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Curtis said. “Both personal and professional lives were changed within a matter of days. We put together a team consisting of multiple disciplines, including pastoral care, bereavement counseling, social work and psychiatry. Each member of the team is experienced in facilitating group work.”
Ohio’s Hospice is a regional partnership of hospice providers, founded in 2013 with three member organizations and in the intervening years expanded to nine members, in addition to entering into joint ventures and other community organizations.
Regional partnerships such as Ohio’s Hospice help non-profit hospice organizations compete with for-profit entities that during the past decade have come to dominate the hospice market.
Cope & Hope started as a virtual community platform that allowed staff to share stories and encouraging messages to their colleagues. Educational sessions were held each week on wellness subjects, including mindfulness, self care, coping skills and resilience.
The team providing those services, including social workers, chaplains and a psychiatrist, also made themselves available for unit meetings throughout the organization to facilitate discussions, answer questions and address staff needs. .
“One of the prevailing themes expressed by staff attending the Cope & Hope sessions are feelings of isolation and loneliness,” Curtis said. “We frequently discuss building resilience as a mechanism for coping with any challenge, personal or professional, that one may encounter.”