Caregiver Blog: Stop the Healthcare Team Struggle

Article Categories: Caregiver Corner & Caregiver Skills

Are you part of a team that takes care of patient needs? If you are a caregiver working in a nursing home or facility, you most likely are. How is your experience so far?

If you struggle to be part of a team, you may have personal reasons why you find it challenging. But according to research, teamwork in healthcare can sometimes be difficult because of many other reasons such as rigid hierarchy within organizations or unexpected role changes and overlap. Other causes are poor conflict management and the temporary status of teams, as members go their separate ways once a particular patient’s care has ended. Which of the above can you relate to?

Whatever your stumbling blocks to teamwork and collaboration, you must overcome them to prevent medical errors and ultimately reach patient care goals. And if you ever feel, as a caregiver, that your role is insignificant, think again! Of all the members of the team, you spend the most time with the patient. You know your patients personally as a result of your attentive bedside care. What you say matters!

Being part of a healthcare team requires some effort, but it doesn't have to be a struggle when you can do the following:

Communicate effectively. Being a direct care worker puts you at both the front line and the bottom of the hierarchy. It means that you are not in a leadership role but work under the supervision of another. It can be difficult to find your voice to speak up for a patient, especially if you are used to just following orders without being asked your opinion. But remember, you can speak freely as an advocate. Learn how to be open to your team. It will help encourage a spirit of equality for all members.

Sharpen your listening skills. Part of effective communication is receiving messages, understanding them, and then responding accordingly. One part of this flow of messages that is often overlooked is listening. When the team is in discussion, be extra attentive to what is being said and think of ways you can contribute.

Keep respect alive. Respect opinions and boundaries in both good times and bad. Handle conflicts with care. Raising your voice to assert yourself rarely accomplishes anything; rather, it results in hurt feelings. Always agree to a compromise to enable win-win situations.

Another way to show respect is to value diversity. Teams are composed of people from diverse cultures and backgrounds, each with a different and important role. There is a fair chance someone will see things differently, but this isn’t a bad thing! You can learn from their ideas (and they can learn from yours).

Recognize efforts. One of the best ways to solidify a team is to give each other a pat on the back for a job well done. A simple, “Hey, you did great back there!” can ease tiredness and turn someone’s day around, just because you took a moment to make them feel good about themselves.

Be kind and offer a helping hand. As a caregiver, you may already have a lot on your plate, and it’s understandable that you’re rushing to finish tasks on time. But taking the time to be kind and helpful creates a sort of magic. When you extend help to a coworker, the kindness finds its way back to you! Maybe today you stayed an extra 10 minutes to help correctly position a patient, but another day, your colleagues will want to pay it forward and help you out, too.

Being part of a team is both exciting and challenging. Even though there are barriers to teamwork and collaboration, keep a team mentality: competent and confident in your own role as a caregiver while always considering the team effort as a whole.


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