Posts from August, 2014

Work Life Balance: Employee Wellness Programs Improve Health, Save Money

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, August 28th, 2014

Many companies are increasingly embracing employee wellness programs to help staff with work life balance. More research is linking wellness programs to good health outcomes. Companies report they are making a difference.

A peer-reviewed study conducted for Interactive Health, which administers wellness programs for about 2,000 companies, found 85% of 15,550 employees and spouses improved or maintained their level of health risk and companies’ health care costs rose 6% more slowly.

“We know we save people’s lives,” says Cathy Kenworthy, CEO of Interactive Health.

working outA survey by benefits consulting firm Towers Watson found nearly half of companies will offer wellness programs next year that cut insurance premiums for those who improve health screening scores. That’s a 22% increase from last year.

To learn how to improve or implement an employee wellness program for your organization, increase your organization’s overall health and improve work life balance for your staff visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. I’d love to talk to you about how we can customize this program for your workplace. Please contact me today to schedule a complimentary consult.

Life Balance: Sleep Friendly Foods for Self Care

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, August 26th, 2014

On any given night, over 50 million Americans are having difficulty falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night, yet nothing is healthier than a good night’s sleep.

Sleep is restorative and offers more advantages than just feeling energized in the morning. It’s linked to a strong immune system, clearer thinking, lowered blood pressure, preventing heart disease, decreasing fat deposits, providing young-looking complexion and reducing stress.

Sleep and Work Life BalanceDid you know there are sleep friendly foods? Those include almonds, turkey and whole grains. Also, complex carbohydrates like brown rice, cereal and grains contain Tryptophan, an amino acid needed to produce serotonin which helps makes melatonin which helps us sleep. Lean proteins are also high in Tryptophan while fat proteins take longer to digest and bring the serotonin levels down.

Tea also helps people sleep because it helps with relaxation. Chamomile tea, in particular, is known for is calming qualities as well as valerian tea.

Calcium-deficiency may make it difficult to fall asleep so increase your calcium uptake with dairy products like yogurt, cheese and milk.

To learn how to care for your mind, body and spirit and increase your life balance, visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. Contact me today to discuss a customized program that brings work life balance to your staff.

Nurse Staffing Levels Impact Nurse Retention, Nurse Recruitment and Patient Satisfaction

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, August 21st, 2014

American Nurses Association supported the introduction of federal legislation in the U.S. Senate that empowers registered nurses to drive staffing decisions in hospitals, protect patients and improve the quality of care. This legislation would positively impact nurse retention, nurse recruitment and patient satisfaction.

The Regisnurse staffing levelstered Nurse Safe Staffing Act of 2014 (S. 2353), crafted with input from ANA, is sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). ANA supports a companion staffing bill introduced in the House in May 2013, the Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act of 2013 (H.R. 1821).

According to ANA, research has shown that higher staffing levels by experienced RNs are linked to lower rates of patient falls, infections, medication errors and even death.

The bill would require hospitals to establish committees to create unit-by-unit nurse staffing plans based on multiple factors, such as the number of patients on the unit, severity of the patients’ conditions, experience and skill level of the RNs, availability of support staff, and technological resources.

Research proves that nurse staffing levels impact nurse retention and patient satisfaction.

To learn more ways to improve patient care and outcomes and increase nurse retention and nurse recruitment, visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. Contact me today to customize this program for your staff.

Work Life Balance: Does Job Stress Increase Risk of Diabetes?

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, August 19th, 2014

Research published in the August issue of Diabetes Care proves that stress at work may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to Solja T. Nyberg, of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki. This study raises the question of how well organizations are addressing work life balance issues for their employees.

Nyberg and colleagues conducted analysis of data for 124,808 men and women free of diabetes at baseline to assess the association between job strain and risk of incident type 2 diabetes.

The researchers found thlack of work life balanceat, after multivariable adjustment, individuals with job strain, compared with those without job strain, had an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes (hazard ratio [HR], 1.15; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.06 to 1.25) for both men (HR, 1.19; 95 percent CI, 1.06 to 1.34) and women (HR, 1.13; 95 percent CI, 1.00 to 1.28). Stratified analysis showed that job strain was associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes among those with healthy and unhealthy lifestyle habits.

“In conclusion, we show a modest but robust association between job strain and the development of type 2 diabetes irrespective of lifestyle risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity,” the authors write.

To learn how to reduce and cope with stress at your workplace, increase work life balance and improve the overall health of your organization, visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. Contact me today to discuss your goals for improving your staff’s work life balance and coping skills.

Nurse Recruitment: School Nurses Save Money

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, August 14th, 2014

A Massachusetts program that put full-time registered nurses in schools more than paid for itself by averting medical costs and lost work for parents and teachers, according to new research.

To save money, many school districts have cut or reduced the hours of school nurses in recent years, and nationwide less than half of public schools have a full-time nurse.

school nurse“The findings of this study suggest that from a societal perspective, the benefits of school nursing services may well exceed the cost for those services,” researcher Li Yan Wang reported. She led the research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Adolescent and School Health in Atlanta, Georgia.

The researchers compared money spent putting full-time nurses in schools with money the program saved by reducing doctors’ visits and keeping parents at work and teachers in front of the classroom.

For the 22 types of procedures school nurses performed during the study, the researchers calculated how much it would cost to go to a clinic or hospital for the same care.

To measure lost wages for parents, they determined the time parents would have to take off work if children were dismissed early, as well as how often they would have to come to school to help kids take their prescription medications if no nurse was on site.

Finally, to assess teacher productivity, they referred to an earlier study that found teachers spent 20 fewer minutes per day dealing with student health issues once a nurse was assigned to their school.

Wang and her colleagues calculated that every dollar invested in the school nurse program saved $2.20 overall, according to the findings published in JAMA Pediatrics.

“We haven’t looked at the number of emergency room visits saved, we have not looked at the number of hospitalizations saved . . . we have yet to look at the big savings,” Wang said. “This is just a drop in the bucket.”

School districts need to put getting a full-time school nurses back on the priority list. We need more nurses. To learn proven strategies for nurse recruitment and nurse retention visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. Contact me today with questions and to customize this program for your staff.

Life Balance (And Some GREAT News!): Eating Chocolate is Healthy!

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, August 12th, 2014

Dark chocolate, which has been shown in several studies to improve artery flexibility, may also help people with peripheral artery disease (PAD) walk a little better.

Reseadark chocolaterchers found that PAD patients with symptoms of intermittent claudication who ate dark chocolate (but not milk chocolate) experienced improved walking autonomy. The dark chocolate eaters showed an 11% increase in maximal walking distance compared with no change in patients who ate equal amounts of milk chocolate.

Dark chocolate enhances artery dilation and blood flow to the limbs, especially during exercise. The single, blind, crossover study included just 20 patients and some say its “clinical implications are limited.” But I say if research proves it, we eat it! It’s good for our bodies and our minds, because this research makes me smile. J

To learn how to care for your mind, body and spirit, visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. Contact me today to talk about customizing this powerful program for your hospital staff.

Do Magnet Hospitals Give Better Care?

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, August 7th, 2014

A professional practice environment that is supportive of nursing explains why Magnet hospitals have better nurse-reported quality of care than non-Magnet hospitals, according to a study.

hospitalResearchers with the New York University College of Nursing and University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing explored links between recognized nursing excellence and quality patient outcomes.

Only 9% of American hospitals have Magnet recognition and Magnet hospitals have higher job satisfaction and lower patient mortality than non-Magnet hospitals. Research into the causes of these differences can create an infrastructure for positive change in nurse and patient outcomes.

Amy Witkoski Stimpfel, RN, PhD, assistant professor at NYUCN, said, “Our study shows that the overall quality of patient care can be optimized when nurses work in a positive environment, with adequate resources and support at the organizational level.”

To improve nurse environment in your hospital and organization, visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. Contact me today to discuss ways to improve nurse retention, nurse recruitment, patient satisfaction and staff health.

Nurse Retention: More Nurses Needed to Care for Veterans

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, August 5th, 2014

To address an urgent need, more nurses are needed to care for veterans. For better health care for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, a foundation has awarded grants to nursing schools for scholarships designed to improve their care.

Fifty-seven schools were given grants by the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare. Scholarships will be provided to doctoral nursing students to study deployed veterans’ health problems. The goal is for them to graduate then treat veterans and their families, and teach nursing students in academic and clinical settings about veterans’ specific health issues.

veteransMany returning veterans are coping with amputations and head injuries. 320,000 returning veterans have multiple injuries. One out of every five returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has some sort of mental health diagnosis, whether it’s PTSD, traumatic brain injury, or depression.

These are lifelong injuries and nurses are going to be caring for them throughout their lifetimes, so this is a new type of care.

Many veterans get their medical care outside of the VA so all medical providers need to be educated about their medical needs to avoid missed diagnosis and overlooked problems, plus insuring that appropriate referrals are made. Education tailored to understanding veterans’ experiences is essential to treating those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We will need more nurses to address this need. To learn more strategies on nurse recruitment and nurse retention visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. Contact me today to discuss a customized program for your staff.