Stress Management Training and Home Visit Scheduling System

Stress Management Training
Stress Management Training

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Stress Management Training and Home Visit Scheduling System

Introduction

Burnout has been identified as one of the main factors impacting the performance of home healthcare nurses. This mostly results from long working hours and many patients to attend to, such that they end up being too exhausted and stressed out. The nature of work that nurses do is also exhausting, given that it involves standing and running around all day, with insignificant breaks between one assignment and the other.

While the straightforward solution would be to increase the number of nurses so that the work is manageable, this may not feasible due to economic pressures, hence the need to come up with strategies to help the nurses manage their current situation better. This paper is a discussion of the impact of conducting stress management training and implementing a home care visit scheduling system to reduce burnout among nurses.

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Discussion

Stress management training

A stressed nurse is likely to have low productivity and energy levels and thereby more prone to burnout. Stress management training would be highly effective in helping nurses cope with everyday challenges and ensuring that they live a balanced life. Abel, Abel and Smith (2012), note that a majority of people are overwhelmed by stress because they are incapable of making proper decisions and plans to address their daily stressors.

Training would help the nurses in identifying their sources of stress and how these can be managed to make life easier. Training for example could help them learn how to prioritize issues and thus make proper personal plans based on the time available to them.

When people experience symptoms of stress including constant headaches, poor concentration, forgetfulness and insomnia among other signs, there is a significant likelihood that they are not aware that they are suffering from stress. Stress management training would provide nurses with an opportunity to understand stress, its causes and effects (Dhobale, 2009). This way, it is possible for the nurses to evaluate themselves and establish the stressors in their lives so as to deal with them.

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Knowledge of daily stressors ensures that they can be effectively addressed using various strategies in order to relieve the affected person (Dhobale, 2009). Once the causes of stress have been identified, it is easier to anticipate them and make necessary plans to ensure that they do not overwhelm the nurse again.

This in itself addresses the issue of burnout because absence of stress means that the individual has more energy to execute their duties. Dhobale (2009) notes that after training, self-management of stress through psychological techniques, physical exercise, breathing exercise, massage and indulgence in hobbies among other things is likely to be witnessed.

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Poor time management is a leading factor in triggering stressors as noted by Abel, Abel and Smith (2012). This is a common problem among home healthcare nurses and can be a major cause of stress. It is difficult for nurses to determine how much time they will spend with a patient because of lack of a properly laid out time plan. Stress management training places major focus on time management as a strategy to reduce stress.

Through this training, nurses would be taught how to schedule their home visits and how to plan their time to ensure that they only take the necessary amount of time to attend to a client. This will ensure that the nurses attend to more patients with lesser time, thus reducing burnout to a great extent. The fact that the nurse is likely to have adequate time for non-work activities in order to create a proper work-life balance leads to a reduction in the occurrence of burnout.

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Stress management training for nurses is not only useful to them but it can also help close acquaintances and colleagues. Milliken (2007) notes that the knowledge gained from the training may be passed on to other people, who would also benefit from better stress management. Assuming that the beneficiaries are mostly other nurses, the result would be a less burnt out workforce.

Home visit scheduling program

Designing a system that effectively schedules home visits would play a great role in reducing burnout among nurses. In the absence of a well designed system, nurses design their own schedules and often maintain unpredictable hours (Hall, 2011). In most cases, home visits are not well planned and nurses mostly end up spending so much time in one home and hence rescheduling consequent visits. They also have to travel frequently to keep up with the visits, hence increasing exhaustion.

Furthermore, a majority of nurses do not have a structured home visit plan to guide the visit and this often results in poor time planning (Mankowska, Meisel and Bierwirth, 2014). A system to schedule home visits would clearly indicate the number of homes to be visited each day, the number of hours to be spent in each house based on client needs and the issues to be addressed by the nurse during the visit. This would save time and thus reduce burnout.

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A scheduling system for home visits would ensure better coordination between healthcare workers and thus reduce conflicting schedules and information gap. Where there are different healthcare workers attending to the same patient, there may be conflict of schedules and thus difficulty in coordinating services (Pinelle and Gutwin, 2003). In the event that a nurse finds a patient being attended by another healthcare worker, they are forced to wait for them to finish with the patient or postpone the session and thus end up wasting a lot of time (Mankowska, Meisel and Bierwirth, 2014).

Due to the fact that each healthcare worker makes their own notes which are rarely shared because they are made on paper, it is difficult to track reports of other healthcare workers attending to the patient, which may bring confusion. It also becomes difficult for synchronous communication to be initiated because health workers cannot trace other healthcare workers’ schedules to know when they are available (Pinelle and Gutwin, 2003).

Such kind of communication breakdown can be addressed through the use of a scheduling system, which ensures that each healthcare worker logs in information concerning their sessions with the patient. Through the system, it is easy to follow schedules made by other healthcare workers, such that nurses can plan the most appropriate time to see clients to avoid time wastage, as well as identify the best time for synchronous communication (Pinelle and Gutwin, 2003). Improved efficiency is not only expected to increase productivity but it also reduces the probability of burnout among nurses.

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The home visits scheduling system is bound to improve efficiency in terms of number of homes visited per day and also save nurses long exhausting hours of travel (Mankowska, Meisel and Bierwirth, 2014). The system would cluster homes according to location in order to plan for effective travel. Visits would be scheduled in such a way that homes in the same area are clustered for same day visits as opposed to visiting different areas the same day. This would reduce the travelling time and also reduce exhaustion, consequently reducing burnout.   

Considering the fact that the system has all the information about clients in one place, the nurse can easily retrieve information and make well-versed decisions based on the information. This works better than using client files because not only is the information easily retrievable, the nurse can make updates and easily compare notes for different clients. Such information can guide the nurse on areas of care to concentrate on, based on client history. Availability of information at the click of a button would go a long way in reducing burnout among nurses and thus enhance productivity.

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Conclusion

It is undeniable based on the discussion that stress management training and introduction of a home visit scheduling system would be effective in reducing burnout among home healthcare nurses. Notably, training nurses on stress management will ensure that they are more aware of their daily stressors, why they occur and how to deal with them. Time management taught during this training is also highly important in promoting efficiency and reducing burnout.

The home visit scheduling system would make it easier for nurses to plan visits, avoid conflict visits and promote communication synchronization. Through this system, visits would be well planned and there would be reduced rescheduling of visits. This essentially translates into less burnout by the nurses. The stress management training and home visit scheduling would therefore impact home healthcare nurse burnout in a significant manner.

References

Abel, H., Abel, A., & Smith, R. L. (2012). The Effects of a Stress Management Course on Counselors-in-Training. Counselor Education & Supervision, 51(1), 64-78. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6978.2012.00005.x Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=8&sid=a576b81a-91da-4e90-bca3-a6f0a26ae995%40sessionmgr114&hid=111

Dhobale, R. S. (2009). Stress Management Training: A Boon to Employee Wellness!. ICFAI Journal Of Soft Skills, 3(1), 39-44. Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=c67da53c-bbed-4343-b72b-da2da51c523f%40sessionmgr198&vid=0&hid=111

Hall, R. (2011). Handbook of Healthcare System Scheduling. New York, Springer Science & Business Media.

Mankowska, D., Meisel, F., & Bierwirth, C. (2014). The home health care routing and scheduling problem with interdependent services. Health Care Management Science, 17(1), 15-30. doi:10.1007/s10729-013-9243-1. Retrieved from eds.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=12&sid=a576b81a-91da-4e90-bca3-a6f0a26ae995%40sessionmgr114&hid=111

Milliken, T. F. (2007). The Impact of Stress Management on Nurse Productivity and Retention. Retrieved from www.medscape.com/viewarticle/562717_5

Pinelle, D. & Gutwin, C. (2003). Awareness-Based Scheduling in a Home Care Clinical Information System. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1480053/

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