At BWH, the Department of Nursing recognizes that the well-being of patients and staff is influenced greatly by a caring and healing environment. Well-being is a major driver of engagement and for nurses and other caregivers, the skill of engagement is foundational to practice development. Our Care Delivery Model, Relationship Based-Care, recognizes relationship with self, “nurtured by self-knowing and self-care” as one of the four key relationships.
The journey toward self-care began seven years ago with the arrival of Alice O’Brien, MS, RN, nursing director on Shapiro 8. “At BWH, I was introduced to a new body of knowledge about meditation and reiki,” said O’Brien, who saw an opportunity for her unit. She sought feedback from her staff about their interest in self-care and their response was overwhelmingly positive.
Soon, staff members were able to sign up for pet and music therapy and listen to meditation CDs. A private space known as the Renewal Room was created, featuring a soothing fountain, plants, photos, a set of tea cups and privacy screens.
This spirit of self-care was extended to the Brigham community when nurses held a health fair for the Shapiro building featuring reflexology, massage chairs, reiki and nutritionists. The following year, the Care Channel, a TV station that shows calming photos and landscapes and plays soothing music, was made available to all inpatients.
“Anyone can enjoy peace and quiet here,” said O’Brien. “When staff are cared for, they are more present.”
Two years ago, Eileen Molina, MS, RN, nursing director for Oncology and Palliative Care, approached Jackie Somerville, PhD, RN, chief nursing officer and senior vice president of Patient Care Services, to ask for a private meditation room. Molina thought it would be beneficial, due to the unique challenges and emotions involved in caring for this patient population.
“Our nurses love their work even though practicing on this unit can be difficult and exhausting,” said Molina. “I did some research, and everything pointed to the need for self-care for caregivers.” Somerville agreed.
Today, the Palliative Care Unit also offers mindfulness meditation sessions and reiki. Beautiful landscapes adorn the walls. Molina is currently working to add soothing music in hallways. Tea and cookies are delivered to patients and families twice per week. “We designed our environment to be as calming as possible,” said Molina.
Kathy Slack, RN, a clinical nurse in the unit, enjoys using the meditation room. “Nurses don’t always take time to decompress because they are so busy caring for patients,” said Slack. “It helps to be alone sometimes, after a stressful day or an unexpected death.”
In September, after several months of planning, Thoracic Surgery celebrated the opening of its new Caritas Room on the 11th floor. Behind its pink door, the room is equipped with soothing music, a beautiful plant, a painting of a beach landscape, and a leather chair.
The nurses and staff of 11ABCD were very involved in setting up the room, donating items and painting their handprints to the wall.
“Though our journey has only just begun, I know that this room will be a place of relaxation and peace for our nurses,” said Eileen O’Connell, MS, RN, nursing director on 11ABD. “In the end, employing wellness and self-care practices will help us improve the care we deliver.”
We invite all members of the Nursing and Patient Care Services community to visit the newly-redesigned Department of Nursing website at www.brighamandwomens.org/Medical_Professionals/nursing/default.aspx