The COVID-19 pandemic is a traumatic event for many, particularly those in the caring professions. Experts are predicting a significant “second curve” of mental health problems among both healthcare workers and the public related to prolonged social isolation, loss of economic opportunity, grief from losing loved ones, among other causes.
While there has been no shortage of resources and recommendations designed to help healthcare workers manage stress during the pandemic, there’s a tendency to place the burden on the individual. At a minimum, it is important that remedies acknowledge the shared responsibility of the healthcare system for creating the conditions for fear, anxiety, and burnout in the first place.
In an effort to streamline, provide sensemaking, and support care teams during this critical time, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) synthesised themes from several key publications, expert interviews, and five years of experience gained by partnering with health systems around the world to address staff well-being and joy in work.
Three key areas to focus on have emerged, along with specific actions healthcare leaders can take to support their workforce and address the more immediate and longer-term effects of the pandemic.