Sentara Martha Jefferson recently launched a new initiative to help staff understand the importance of self-care.

“I think it’s really difficult for nursing staff, but also all hospital employees, to give themselves permission to take the time…time to pause and take a moment for themselves to see how they are actually feeling and doing,” said Esther Lozano, RN, and initiative coordinator.  

The self-care initiative came about in an effort to help gran staff that permission they feel they need to step away from their work.  It was also aimed at improving their job satisfaction, which would ultimately lead to improve care for patients.

Now, mindfulness and stress reduction sessions, massage, and healing touch are all being offered in short five to 15 minutes increments to any staff who may need a re-set.

“We are going unit by unit, we are going to hospital clinicians, rather than them having to go somewhere,” noted Lozano.  

The goal is to make it as easy as possible, and hopefully it’s time well spent for a group that’s wired to take care of others.

“We spend so much time taking care of others that we often forget that it’s really important we pay attention to how we are taking care of ourselves so we are able to continue to give empathy and give sympathy y and give compassion in their time of need,” said Allison Crawford, RN, director of surgical services.

Going forward, there are plans for the program to expand, with longer sessions being provided including guest speakers, and a resiliency room that’s accessible 24/7.

“There will be a massage chair and we’ll have some aromatherapy,” said Lozano.  “There will also be cards that people can write notes to themselves, or maybe even mail back to themselves, just as a little reminder of how they want to be reminded to take care of themselves in a very personal way.”

For now though, the efforts are already making a positive mark on staff.

“This morning I had a nurse come up to me and say thank you so much for the massages yesterday.  We were at high capacity and it was just very relaxing and allowed them to take a moment,” noted Crawford.

For more information on this topic, please call 1-800-SENTARA. If you have questions about your health you’d like us to answer, email healthquestions@nbc29.com.