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Blog Post

How to protect your team's resilience in the coronavirus pandemic

March 19, 2020

    I visit hospitals and health systems every week and the issues of team communication, engagement, and resilience come up in almost every interaction. That focus is more important now than ever—but it’s also a time when some of that stuff can fall by the wayside given the need for us to be moving so very fast against so many things.

    I was in Australia and New Zealand last week, and many of the clinical and social-care leaders I met mentioned they found our resilience infographic a valuable reminder of what is needed to make sure that our staff (who are feeling their own fears and frustrations about the situation whilst also trying to deliver the best care possible for others) remain front and centre in our minds. Although designed for nursing staff, there’s nothing on this that doesn’t apply everywhere and I feel like we could do worse than print this out on the biggest paper we can find and stick it everywhere! The infographic highlights some of our key findings to help staff deal with stress, burnout, and isolation.

    I don’t want to oversimplify a hectic and ever-changing situation, but I also think the notion of kindness should be at the forefront of all of our messagingto one another and to the citizens we’re caring for. I’ve heard many people talk about dealing with the ‘Worried Well’, who I know are often a source of frustration; but right now they represent a growing cohort of citizens (and staff!) given how much the landscape is changing around us.

    Whilst no one has a crystal ball, it’s important to take a few minutes to think about the messaging we need to send out about caregiving, behaviour, and communication. The simple tool below is designed to help you plan your communication with a moment’s thought about the ears in which it will land and what’s going on in the brain between them!

    As we continue to work with multi-disciplinary teams focused on managing COVID-19 both in hospitals and across the care continuum, planning communication like this becomes ever more important. Different organisations have different cultures and different language. A crisis like this requires us to find a common language and a common way of working.

    And I will end with this thought. Ironically, some of the leaders I was with in Australia and New Zealand pointed out that the COVID-19 situation is lowering the risk barriers. In other words, things that were taking months or years to push through—like virtual working and consultations with patients—suddenly must happen for us to even keep operating. And so the many things people were worried about that stopped us leveraging such channels have had to be pushed to one side (albeit without hurting safety and privacy concerns).

    This also applies to how we're working together—we're having to break down silos; ignore contractual barriers; get together and innovate in different ways. We have a toolkit to help with that and I will happily share it with you—get in touch with me at

    But toolkit or no, let's not forget what this collaboration will look and feel like when things hopefully calm down. What we do in an emergency situation can often be the driver of sustainable innovation. So let's learn from ways we've started to work together that could potentially support the long-term resilience of our teams by removing the barriers that can sometimes prevent them from working together to do the right thing for our patients and citizens and our systems.

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