The COVID-19 pandemic has caused trauma for some, and one health group is informing Bexar County residents on how to seek help and support as we get back to normalcy.
University Health is training and educating the community on trauma-informed care, in partnership with the City of San Antonio and the Ecumenical Center, to ensure everyone can have the experience of a healthier and more functional workplace.
Sarah Sebton, the director of Trauma-Informed Care for University Health, gave insight on what it is and why it matters.
What is trauma-informed care?
Trauma-informed care (TIC) recognizes that trauma can negatively impact people of all ages. TIC encourages health care organizations to take into consideration a person’s past traumatic experiences when providing care.
Becoming trauma-informed requires an organization to re‐examine its existing procedures that could be improved upon, to ensure participants feel more comfortable and secure. It equips staff to be more empathetic and encourages them to create a more welcoming environment.
“We understand that a healthier staff means better patient care,” said a representative for University Health. “While this broad coalition for regional culture change began well before the pandemic, the pandemic has meant we have a lot more trauma to address -- a collective trauma, but one that has affected people in very different ways.”
2. Why does trauma-informed care matter outside a health care setting?
Trauma-informed care is not just a health care approach, but an approach to human relationships, and it can help make a workplace more functional, healthier and a better place to work, especially after we have all experienced the collective trauma of a pandemic.
It can be incorporated into any workplace through the practice of trauma-informed supervision. It can be really helpful as people return to workplace settings full-time, after long pandemic shutdowns.
3. How can workplaces use trauma-informed supervision to make this a smoother transition for employees?
If leaders and managers want to make this transition successful, they’ll need to design work arrangements with individual human concerns in mind, not just institutional ones. Supervisors can have group and one-on-one conversations with employees, and they don’t necessarily have to be about tough subjects, but can create that safe space where employees feel they can bring up concerns, needs or expectations if they want to, without discussing progress on their assigned tasks/projects.
Encouraging self-care is also huge -- making sure that employees are empowered to practice self-care during the workday so that they can be as productive as possible without burning out.
4. How is University Health incorporating trauma-informed care within the organization?
One example of the way we are changing is that we’ve recently implemented a practice called Schwartz Rounds, which is a forum where staff from all parts of the system -- not just clinical care -- can tell and listen to our most difficult stories in a structured, safe space.
It’s an opportunity for dialogue among staff who are used to being strong and bearing it all, but who (also) need to process these tough experiences like any other human.
We have also created Recharge Rooms, which are comfortable, quiet spaces where a staff member can take a few minutes to relax, listen to some music, just breathe, and to put themselves in a different frame of mind.
To learn more about trauma-informed care, click or tap here.