Since the day Kristen Reed, BSN, RN, joined the Neurosciences Intermediate Care team in 2017, she has made it a mission to incorporate integrative and holistic practices that benefit patients and staff alike.
“I’ve always been interested in holistic practices and how they can help reduce patients’ pain and anxiety,” said Reed, who recently received the 2019 Holistic Nursing Rising Star Award from the American Holistic Nurses Association. “These kinds of therapies are also very effective for caregivers.”
Reed believes that holistic therapies can be combined with traditional medicine to promote healing.
“What if we could offer holistic practices as tools to our patients in order to focus on the whole person, not just the disease or illness?” she asked. “That could mean teaching someone a quick meditation, deep breathing with them for 10 seconds or even just sitting with them quietly. If a pain medication is not yet due, these holistic practices can be used to help extend that time or induce relaxation and a sense of calm.”
This year, Reed’s vision has begun to come alive. With partnership from colleague Jaimie Medina, BSN, RN, and Nursing Director Mary Pennington, MS, RN, a reiki resiliency research project is underway, and an effort to increase the focus on staff wellness has already yielded promising results.
“I was thrilled when Kristen and Jaimie approached me with their ideas,” said Pennington, a yoga and reiki instructor who is passionate about integrative therapies. “It has always been my goal to support staff in incorporating these practices in the care of self as well as patients.”
Reiki Resiliency Research
Reed, a certified reiki master, believes the ancient Japanese practice is an effective way to encourage the body’s natural healing process and complement nursing care.
She has practiced reiki on herself, family members, colleagues and patients. “People usually tell me they feel so relaxed that they could fall asleep,” she said. “Patients love it, especially those with behavioral issues and those who are in pain; it calms them immediately.”
To study the effects of reiki, 20 percent of staff on the unit will become certified in reiki 1, a beginner-level practice. Staff who choose to participate take a day-long class, co-taught by Reed and Libby Barnett, MSW, a long-time reiki master practitioner.
Staff will complete a survey before the training and monthly afterward to determine the impact of reiki on job satisfaction, anxiety and burnout. The second phase of the study will focus on the effects of reiki on patients.
Staff Wellness Days
In August, the unit held its first Staff Wellness Day. The conference room was transformed into a healing space with soft lighting, the scent of lavender and offerings including meditation, reiki, yoga, healing of the hands and aromatherapy.
“The model that Kristen and Jaimie have created has evolved into a sacred place where, for a few minutes, staff can connect on a deep level with themselves,” said Pennington. “The reiki therapists are the staff, who treat each other. This act of kindness and love toward each other has been profound.”
She added, “When we have wellness days, there is a palpable shift in the stress levels of everyone on staff.”
Wellness days received such positive feedback that they are now offered monthly for Braunwald Tower 10CD, 12A and 12B.
“We are at the beginning of this journey, but the wellness day has been a huge success,” said Pennington. “Staff love it, and we have a vision of spreading this incredible work throughout our Brigham community.”
Reed agreed. “We hope to share this initiative with all Brigham staff to care for those who care for our patients every day,” she said.