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Renewal rooms help oncology nurses refuel and restore

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Nursing is a demanding profession. Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Midwestern Regional Medical Center in suburban Chicago took action to help its nurses relieve stress. The facility's renewal rooms are spaces dedicated to self-reflection and healing. Recognizing the value of serenity spaces where nurses can renew and rejuvenate themselves, Jillianne Shriver, BSN, RN, HN-BC, team lead for inpatient medical oncology unit, and co-workers asked the administration for permission to create such a space in their unit.

"Nursing as a profession is very giving. Nurses want to help others, and they do it to the extent they don't think about themselves," she said. "When nurses take care of the self first, they can better serve the patient, their family, and the community."

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REFRESH & RENEW: Samantha Brandt, BSN, RN, HN-BC, enjoys a moment of solitude and reflection in a renewal room at Cancer Treatment Centers of America Midwestern Regional Medical Center.

Renewing Spirit
CTCA at Midwestern already had a culture of supporting holistic nursing, which requires nurses to integrate self-care. The administration saw the renewal room as an extension of that philosophy. Jacklynn Lesniak, MS, BSN, RN, senior vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer, explained: "We ask our nurses to give a lot to our patients and they deliver on that. We wanted to give back to them as well."

The renewal room is a quiet, private space where nurses can collect their thoughts. They can have a few minutes to themselves when they have a particularly difficult situation. Its contents include a massage chair, yoga mat, CDs for music therapy, essential oils for aromatherapy, inspirational books, a small tabletop waterfall, and other methods for relaxation. Nurses leave encouraging messages to each other in the room. Anyone using the room hands off his or her phone and pager to a colleague, who covers for those 5 to 10 minutes. "It promotes teamwork and supportive emotional behavior," Shriver said.

In the first three months, the renewal room was used more than 420 times. Nurses surveyed before and after using the room all reported a drop in their anxiety levels. "It's only received positive feedback," Shriver said. Nurses voiced their appreciation that the administration thinks about them and their needs.

More Present at the Bedside
Giving nurses that freedom to renew their energy in turn makes them more focused, more aware of their surroundings, and more emotionally present to help their patients.

The staff members plan to incorporate some of the relaxation techniques, like hand massage, into their bedside care. "It's truly come full circle," Shriver remarked.

Patients have commented that the nurses at CTCA at Midwestern are good team players, strong communicators, and always in a good mood. "I truly believe the renewal rooms are making a difference for both the patient and the nurse," Shriver said.

SEE ALSO: Mindset: The Key to Creating Balance

Empowering Staff
Burnout is a constant threat in nursing. Renewal rooms let staff nurses rejuvenate themselves and potentially contribute to lower staff turnover rates. From a chief nursing officer's perspective, it's a good investment. The roms attract new, quality bedside nurses and give current staff incentives to give their all.

Recently, the hospital opened a new six-story, 72-bed inpatient tower. Based on the success of the first space, renewal rooms were incorporated into this new construction. Every nursing unit in the new patient care tower has its own renewal room. Down the road, CTCA at Midwestern hopes to create rooms for other clinical staff, too.

"It's important that nurses empower themselves," Lesniak remarked. The renewal rooms show that leadership is committed to providing a healthy work environment, nurturing its nurses so they can better nurture their patients.

Danielle Bullen is a staff writer. Contact: dbullen@advanceweb.com


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