How do you tell care takers to take care of themselves? How do you tell them how important they are to this world? How do you express the gratitude of an entire people – really, an entire nation? I believe the real answer is that you can’t. But we must never, never stop trying.
My fortunate board position has allowed me to participate in the Re-igniting the Spirit of Caring three-day program, aimed at both telling our caregivers how much they mean to us as leaders and patients, and beseeching them to renew, discover, invent ways to care for themselves in the aftermath of the pandemic and on into the future.
What they have done for us, here locally and across the world, is beyond selfless, beyond heroic. They’ve given of themselves beyond description, and it is time – high time – for our system to give back, telling them all that it is okay, in fact essential for them to pause and refresh themselves; at the same time, they need to look to the future, “re-igniting” their personal and professional flames.
Through discussion, panels, and caring circles, I watched many eyes open to their shared plight, many acts of support, some tears, and, yes, laughter. How sweet that laughter. They heard patient/family stories that brought their experiences to the fore, and allowed for questions, bringing great clarity to the impact of their work. They tried out common language that helped them help others both colleagues and patients alike in those difficult moments of confusion and occasional doubt.
They honed communication skills, and identified just the kind of colleague and professional caregiver each wants to be and to model for others. They expressed beautiful opinions and ideas around how to care for patients/families who are at their most vulnerable. They rose to the intent of this three day program, individually and as a group, having shared something truly transformational, truly special.
Personally, I am exceedingly proud of our system for giving the time and the treasure to those who have given so much to so many. I participated in the entire three days, and I observe a patient/family panel each month, and each time it reignites my own spirit, just know that we are making a difference to our most important (human) resource.
I look into their eyes and listen to their stories and know there is good – so much good – in this world.
Board Chair, St. Luke’s – Cedar Rapids, IA