Innovative Nurse Brings Care to Caregivers

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, October 1, 2013

A nurse-led program not only helps reduce stress among caregivers, it also illuminates the importance of nurses being able to conceptualize, develop, and implement such programs.

One of nursing's occupational hazards is compassion fatigue, that unique brand of emotional exhaustion that comes with the continuous and sometimes thankless job of caregiving.

Volunteer Therapy Dog

"I think the people who care for everyone else get forgotten sometimes," says Heather Matthew, MSN, RN, clinical practice leader in the ED at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP).

A few weeks ago, this column looked at some of HUP's programs that aim to make its adult patients feel better-cared for. Among those programs is HUP's Pups, which brings volunteer therapy dogs onto units to interact with patients and families.

Seeing that program in action gave Matthew an idea.

"There's a ton of research [showing] that animals just seem to make everything better," she tells HealthLeaders. "I noticed that when [the dogs] would come, the few times they would visit the ED, the staff loved it." The dogs not only lifted the patients' spirits, but the staff's, too.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders Media.


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