Health 27 August 2020
Our brains are wired to always assess risks in any decision we make, as we think about all its possible outcomes. Each person also deals with sudden crises in their lives in their own way based on certain factors. Risk and crisis are two words that are not just familiar to individuals, but to entire sectors, organizations, and entities. There is risk and there are possible crises in the transport sector, the financial sector, and the healthcare sector. The health sector may differ in how the stakes to risks and crises are much higher than any other sector. This is why Risk and Crisis Management is an essential part of any healthcare employee in order to limit losses and damage in emergencies.
What is Risk and Crisis Management?
Training for Risk and Crisis Management is something that has to be prioritized in all fields and sectors, not just healthcare. The two concepts are distinct in their meaning; a crisis is a sudden event that is often public and can cause significant damage. A risk is something that may happen in the future that could cause unexpected harm or loss. Crisis management is more about managing and recovering from an unforeseeable incident. On the other hand, risk management is to research and assess any possible incidents that could have a negative impact and to prepare for them.
Risk and Crisis Management In the Health Sector
When it comes to these two concepts in healthcare, they have a significant role since they involve matters of life and death. Risks in the health sector vary from malpractice and faulty medical tools to ill performed procedures. Managing these risks is crucial to ensure patient's wellbeing and safety as well as manage financial losses. Crisis management, on the other hand, revolves around always being prepared for sudden medical situations that affect the sector and people like the recent outbreak of COVID-19.
Why Does it Matter?
Identifying and Quantifying Risk
Risk is about uncertainty and handling potential outcomes with efficiency. This may be more difficult in healthcare since not all risks can be recognized and they are constantly changing and emerging. This can be done only by combining effort, knowledge, and data to reveal any possible threats. When identified, they need to be assessed and prioritized based on certain factors like likelihood and impact. This allows healthcare officials to determine the next steps that should be taken when it comes to utilizing sources and assigning work to staff.
The U.S. suffered from a period of malpractice crisis in 1970, which had a huge impact on people's health. Due to perfecting Risk and Crisis Management training programs, people's lives are no longer at risk now, and settlement costs have dropped significantly. This is the most important function of training healthcare personnel for risks and crises; to ensure the safety and wellbeing of every patient, whether they are getting a normal check-up or procedure, or undergoing serious surgeries and treatments.
Healthcare providers need to take this kind of training to properly act and react to situations involving risk factors. There are usual procedures like identifying hazards, whether those are chemical, biological, or physical, to keep their workplace safe. There are also sudden medical situations like the spread of COVID-19 where this kind of training serves in keeping healthcare providers and staff safe in order for them to be able to serve others. Knowledge about the pandemic, its symptoms, and how it spreads can all aid in managing COVID in the workplace and help individuals do their part in combating this crisis. This is not limited to healthcare-related workplaces; if you're in any managerial position, it's crucial to have this training to ensure the safety of your employees.
Procedures and Precautions
Having Risk and Crisis Management training means taking the appropriate procedures and precautions in the event of a sudden emergency. The training tackles everything from learning the right way of communicating with healthcare officials and employees all the way to resource utilization and distributing the workload. Certain health precautions need to be taken in case of a crisis like implementing travel restrictions, doubling down on cleanliness, and raising awareness of the issue.
Legal and Financial Aspects
Any health crisis has legal and financial consequences that must also be included in the risk and crisis training sessions. Since training involves those in administrative positions in the healthcare system who deal with legal and financial aspects, they must also research any unforeseeable event and analyze its impact in order to be prepared to deal with any health emergency that may have an effect on their department. Legal risks, for example, such as medical lawsuits and malpractice claims can impact an organization's reputation as well as its finances.
The bottom line is it's always better to be safe than sorry, and that's the whole idea behind Risk and Crisis Management Training. There is no space for regrets about poor strategic planning in the health sector. The world has witnessed sufficient evidence of what can happen due to a lack of training in the healthcare sector. It is time to enhance our training programs and strategies that can save lives and whole organizations.
5 min read
When we envision a person who is suffering from substance use disorder (SUD)—defined by having a history of past misuse, experiencing increasing mental health symptoms, or having a family history of addiction—we often picture someone waking up and instantly grabbing their first drink. However, in my experience working with those battling SUD for nearly a decade, I've learned that everyone's relationship with alcohol looks different and having a few too many drinks at night can be just as dangerous.
The time of day, amount, or type of alcohol one drinks doesn't define if they suffer from SUD or not—it's the compulsion to drink. By focusing on healthy stress relievers and implementing them into your daily routine, you aren't just avoiding another glass at night, you are curbing any inclination for SUD that you may have.
While you may feel the desire to reach for another drink after dinner and putting the kids to bed to relieve some of the stress you incurred that day, there are other things that you can do that are much more beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing.
Risks of Reaching for Another Drink
Reaching for another cocktail or glass of wine can feel like a great way to relieve the stress of the day at the time, but over time it can actually lead to the opposite. Excessive drinking is known to lead to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders such as increased risk of family problems, altered judgment, and worsened sleep quality. These can all lead to increased stress and create a continuous cycle I have seen in many of my patients, which often prove difficult to break.
Increased alcohol consumption can directly impact an individual's mood and temperament, too. In my patients, I've seen a connection between increased alcohol consumption and irritability, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities that previously brought that person joy—activities that people should always put time into, especially right now during the pandemic.
While drinking in moderation doesn't have serious implications for some, others are already at increased risk for SUD. One drink per day is considered moderate for women, while eight drinks or more in a single week is categorized as heavy drinking. It's important to monitor your intake—whether you are at increased risk for SUD or not. It is all too easy for one glass to become another, and then another. And if you keep reaching for just one more drink, you can start to build a tolerance, as it requires more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. This can result in dangerous, addictive habits that will alter your life, and the lives of those who care for you.
Three Healthy Ways to Relieve Evening Stress
Stress relief from alcohol is short-lived, but choosing healthier, alternative stress relievers can provide long-lasting benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. At Wellbridge, our team not only focuses on treating addiction but also on teaching healthy habits to support ongoing sobriety. And many of these learnings can be implemented to avoid addiction by handling stress better as well!
Below are three healthy stress relief ideas you can implement into your routine:
- Mindfulness exercises can be a powerful and mentally stimulating stress reliever. Throughout our therapeutic program at Wellbridge, we provide different opportunities to cultivate mindfulness. For example, breathing exercises, such as box breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, mindful walking, and progressive muscle relaxation. If you're looking for entry, guided meditation, check out this YouTube channel where experts post mindfulness exercises each week.
- Human connection is invaluable. Whether it is your spouse, your children, a friend, or even a therapist, connecting with someone else can be a great way to relieve stress. The additional perspective that another person provides can also help us feel that the anxieties and stressors we are experiencing are more manageable. If you are feeling increased stress from loneliness or isolation, reach out and schedule a Zoom coffee hour with a friend, or call a loved one to check-in and chat.
- Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever as well, for so many reasons. Not only can it help us get our mind off of stress, it enables our bodies to release endorphins and provides long-lasting physical health benefits. Physical activity doesn't need to be a full-blown workout if you don't feel up to it, or simply don't have extended periods of time to dedicate to a longer exercise regimen. Even a short walk or some stretching can go a long way towards improving your mood. I enjoy following guided, online yoga practices for both mindfulness practice and physical activity.
Despite my years working in this space, I am no stranger to giving in to stress. However, I've learned that by allotting myself a little time each morning and evening for activities that set a positive tone in my life—like meditation, journaling, and exercise—I've been able to better manage my stress and feel more prepared for heightened periods of stress. Do I manage to set aside personal time every morning and evening? Definitely not—life happens! But by doing our best to take regular time out for ourselves, we're all certain to be in a better place emotionally and mentally.
Putting Your Mental Health & Wellbeing First
It's important to also recognize that it isn't just stress that causes us to reach for another drink at night. With the added pressures and responsibilities of women in today's world, having another glass of our favorite drink at the end of the day can often seem like a quicker and easier option than other healthier ways to relieve stress.
However, it's essential to put your mental health and wellbeing front and center in your priority list—something that many women struggle with. But just like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. By focusing on implementing small, healthy habits and making them a seamless part of your daily routine, you ensure that you can show up in all aspects of your life and for all the people in your life.
If you are struggling with increased stress, be specific and honest with your support system about your need to preserve your mental wellbeing. Prioritizing your needs will help you be there for other people you care about in your life.
I always refer back to a quote from a Dar Williams song—a song about therapy no less! "Oh, how I loved everybody else when I finally got to talk so much about myself." Talk about your needs with others and find time to develop healthy coping habits. And if you feel as though you've already created an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, discuss that relationship with a medical advisor to learn if advanced treatment is the right option for you.