When you're taking care of patients, whether it's pediatric, geriatric or any age in between, finding time for additional screenings or procedures outside the regular scope of practice may seem impossible. In fact, lack of times is one of the most common barriers to implementing trauma informed care. Is lack of time really a barrier to implementing trauma informed care? Is it simply a perceived barrier? Maybe both?


Understandably, implementing the DEF Protocol requires a bit of additional training and work in the beginning, but trauma informed care doesn't always need to be that formal. It can be as simple as employees bringing "their hearts to work", as one hospital CEO says. And everyone, no matter their job, needs to do it, because as Lakeland's CEO explains:


"For a nurse or an x-ray tech with 10 or 20 years of experience, delivering health care is a routine. But for a patient, the experience is anything but. Lakeland’s CEO reminded his associates that a hospital visit is one of the most emotionally charged events any human being can ever experience—something that is remembered for years afterward. Borrowing from research done at Florida Hospital, he characterized a hospital visit as a drama in three acts. First, there’s admission—typically accompanied by pain, fear and anxiety. Next is in-patient care, which often involves alternating bouts of discomfort and boredom. Third is discharge, when out-going patients often feel unprepared or even abandoned. Using associates to play the role of patients, the CEO demonstrated how each stage of the drama offered opportunities to create loving connections with patients — by demonstrating concern and tenderness, and providing consolation and cheer."


So how, without additional work or training, does one implement trauma informed care throughout an entire hospital system? Lakeland's CEO brought a challenge to his employees:


“Every time you interact with a patient, tell them who you are, what you’re there to do, and then share a heartfelt why. For example, ‘I’m Tom, I’m here change your dressings, ‘cause we want you home in time for your granddaughter’s wedding.’” The heartfelt why needed to be stated in a way that put the patient’s hopes and fears at the center of the healthcare drama."


At it's core, trauma informed care is more about shifting to view the patient's experience from a different lens, one that understands patients bring their own past experiences, traumas, and beliefs with them when they come through the hospital doors, than it is about adding extra work to an already time crunched industry. 


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