Positive Practice Environment (the other PPE)

At this point in time (the beginning of April 2020) PPE is popping-up in news and social media feeds frequently. Understandably, with the outbreak of the #COVID19 pandemic, clinicians are much more conscious of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) than usual. Even crusty old mental health nurses like me have revisited and refreshed our knowledge on PPE.

That’s sensible. It’s also sensible to acknowledge that there’s more than one type of PPE.

Positive Practice Environment (PPE)

Today some nurses who work on a ward receiving patients suspected/confirmed to have COVID-19 identified elements that are contributing to their ward working well. Although there’s still some anxiety, of course, generally it is a PPE (positive practice environment). Some of the things nursing staff identified were:

  1. Team Nursing. The RNs highlighted this as a part of the PPE. In a team you never feel like it’s your burden to bear alone, there’s someone to check with donning and doffing personal protective equipment, and there’s always someone to help if you’re in the isolation room and need something extra.
  2. Communication. Communciation within the nursing team, and between the nursing staff and senior medical staff is much better than usual. Regular meetings both formal and informal are really helpful.
  3. Working Smarter. For example: before entering an isolation room, call the patient on their bedside/mobile phone to see if they need anything extra. Similarly, making an arrangement with the patient that they can buzz or phone if they need anything. Increased use of phone = decreased frequency of entering isolation room = decreased use of personal protective equipment.
  4. Getting Smarter. Asking questions and brainstorming solutions. Everyone acknowledges that they aren’t experienced or experts in pandemics, and that collaborative care is the only way to problem-solve the way forward. Patients generate solutions too
  5. Staying Focused. There is so much information swirling about regarding COVID-19, that it is important to limit the sources and exposure. We need to trust the health department that employs us to give us the correct information at the correct time. We can’t afford the time or mental/emotional energy to look at everything that’s out there.
  6. Downtime is Sacred. When everything at work seems to have a COVID-19 twist to it, it’s important to shield against overload. Strategies include:
    • Don’t watch the news, watch a movie.
    • Be careful how much time we spend in the social media echo chamber.
    • Switch off social media and the TV and listen to music.
    • Ask friends and family not to use “the C word” around you.

Downtime is Sacred.

Three Final Thoughts

One
It’s not just about wearing PPE (as in personal protection equipment) it’s about creating a PPE (as in positive practice environment) too. Nobody pretends for a moment that there are not more and/or better ideas than those above, but being intentional about both lots of PPE is helping.

Two
What’s more contagious: COVID-19 or anxiety?

Three
I can’t believe that it’s been less than 2 months since the term “COVID-19” was first coined. It has infected nearly every news article and conversation since early February 2020.

End

That’s it. Thanks for reading.

As always your feedback is invited via the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 1 April 2020

Short URL meta4RN.com/PPE

3 thoughts on “Positive Practice Environment (the other PPE)

  1. Hollie Danher

    Paul, we as nurses are so privileged and happy to have you as a part of our support network. Thank you for taking the time, thought and kindness to make sure we are ok and to ensure we are supported. We really do appreciate you and all that you do. Thank you.

    Like

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Supporting Nurses’ Psychological and Mental Health | meta4RN

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