“How can we provide good patient care if we feel that we ourselves are not being well cared for?” social worker Frema Engel asked members of JGH staff during a February lecture. No sooner had she posed the question than she answered it: Respect your co‑workers and be sure they do the same for you.
Ms. Engel, a consultant and trainer in conflict resolution, said a special effort must be made to recognize and deal with lack of respect, bullying and harrassment in the workplace, which persist even though legislation against psychological harrassment at work has been in place in Quebec since 2001. At the JGH, the Healthy Organization program was involved in creating a Civility Code, whose policies outline the necessary measures for civility and respect in the workplace.
Ms. Engel said that since a hospital is a stressful place to work, you should ask yourself whether, without realizing it, you may have acted inappropriately during moments of extreme pressure. Ask your co-workers to be honest with you about your behaviour and then if necessary, apologize to them, she said, because feelings of resentment weaken a team’s cohesiveness and undermine the quality of the care that patients deserve.
Hey, show some respect!Everyone on staff is invited to show their respect—for patients and their families, and for one another—by joining the Humanization of Care Committee and hospital leaders on May 27 from 11:00 to 11:30 a.m. at the main entrance. Refreshments and giveaways will be offered. Be an ambassador for respect in your workplace by participating in this event.
At the same session, Rabbi Michael Whitman, spiritual leader of the Adath Israel Poale Zedek Anshei Ozeroff Synagogue in Hampstead, told staff that if they hear a patient complaining, they should stop and listen closely, because what sounds like griping may actually be the patient expressing an entirely different set of emotions that are lurking just below the surface.
According to Rabbi Whitman, some patients are fearful, lonely, anxious and angry about their illness or hospitalization, but their feelings take the form of complaints, because patients worry that otherwise, no one will pay attention to them.
For this reason, members of hospital staff need to take the time to speak compassionately with these patients to understand whether the complaint is masking a deeper problem or a more urgent need, Rabbi Whitman said.
The session emphasized the need for respect which, Rabbi Whitman said, emerges when members of staff supplement medical treatment with acts of caring. “Even if you do nothing but listen fully to the patient for a few minutes, what you do will be appreciated, even if it is not openly expressed. You will have made a real difference in someone’s life.”