National Alliance Hosts Leadership Summits: Care for Caregivers Among Their Forward-Thinking Topics

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Thoughts from Nancy Spangler, PhD, Senior Advisor, on her experience at the NAHPC Leadership Summit (Dallas, March 14-15, 2018)

I represented Greenleaf Integrative as a panelist at the National Alliance for Healthcare Purchaser Coalition’s annual leadership summit on March 14 – 15, 2018. The National Alliance, led by Mike Thompson, brings together expertise, resources, and leadership to business coalitions and their employer members, encouraging collaboration and innovation in the rapidly changing world of workplace health and well-being.

Speakers and panelists discussed four areas: (1) Healthy Minds, (2) Obesity, (3) Caregivers, and (4) Culture and Community. Bob Stephen from AARP set the stage for the caregivers’ session by sharing that about 6 out of 10 of family caregivers are actively employed.  AARP’s 2015 caregiver report is full of details on the effects of family caregiving, and interested people will also like their website with resources for caregivers.

For organizations that employ care-giving professionals — such as health care workers, first responders, and humanitarian aid workers — employees face increasingly complex and highly demanding work environments, and they frequently go home to continue caregiving to family members. As our population ages, that potential “double duty” becomes more and more likely.

The health care industry, in particular, is facing sharp increases in levels of burnout, provider fatigue, and staff turnover. The work culture in the health care industry is unique, as Ray Fabius, MD, president of HealthNEXT, had just shared at another meeting —

“Healthcare workers are sicker than workers in other industries. In general, they don’t take good care of themselves, and they don’t access the very health care system that they work in.”

So what do we do? Ray Fabius and Andrew Crighton, MD, both talked at the summit about the importance of creating cultures of health. Fabius suggests that companies with a strong culture of health (often associated with a culture of safety) are more likely to stabilize their health care costs and to prosper generally. Crighton shared that Prudential has developed a broad model of wellbeing, which includes emotional, financial, and spiritual health. These areas of focus are helping people find a greater sense of meaning, purpose, and belonging. Good models of wellbeing emphasize having energy and flourishing in life… a very necessary complement to typical “wellness” programs, which mostly focus on reducing risks of chronic illness.

Lauren Chucko of Allina Health said they’ve also moved to a wellbeing model and a Whole Person Care culture. They have elevated the culture across all business functions in the health system, empowering managers to support employees’ wellbeing, to “know the whole person” by using a story-telling approach. They’ve seen increases in employee work engagement as a result.

Our caregiving panel, led by Jane Hamilton, CEO of Partners on the Path, discussed the challenges in common among employees who are caregivers for family members as well as the demanding role that professional caregivers face. I spoke to how it is critical to help caregivers when they are moving out of the “green zone,” or the optimal level of adaptation to work, life, and environmental stressors.

 

Greenleaf uses a visual model to help depict notable symptoms as distress takes over and potentially overwhelms the person. The card can be a tool for teaching self-help strategies and for helping managers recognize how stress is affecting employees’ work.

 

Thank you to my other co-panelists, for their insights into family and professional caregiving, including:

Other speakers with resource descriptions include: