UNCC300 Low Morale of Healthcare Staff: Justice and Change in Global World Assessment 3 Answer
The issue of low morale among staff members of healthcare setting is an important topic to be considered and analyzed in terms of the Catholic social teaching (CST). A detailed analysis of the issue in relation to the principle of shared responsibility towards common good and human dignity will help in understand the reasons of such a low morale and the possible interventions to link advocacy and community engagement to improve the situation.
Low Morale of Healthcare staff
The term ‘common good’ has been defined within CST as “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily” (Gaudium, 1965). Considering healthcare staff as a major contributory to overall wellbeing of people, a critique is presented to analyze the relationship between low morale of staff members in a healthcare setting and the conceptualizations of the common good that are not being realized leading to such a situation (Massaro, 2015).
Several health care systems have emerged being based on the Catholic principle of common good providing efficient care to undeserved individuals and communities focused on principles of equity, dignity and distributive justice (Jairath et al., 2006 and Massaro, 2015). However, there remains a challenge of integrating the common good construct into the profession of health care staff members leading to their low morale.
Considering the working conditions in healthcare settings, there are several factors that become the key reason of low morale among staff members of such organizations. These include the working conditions include all factors like workload, shift work, long working hours, physical infrastructure, inadequate resources, shortage of staff, lack of empowerment, dissatisfactory remuneration, lack of proper management, etc. (Parandeh et al., 2016). Such factors affect human dignity which is a fundamental human right and a key concept given under CST creating a moral obligation of maintaining a caring professional behavior (Parandeh et al., 2016).
Considering some of the factors, increased patient loads results in greater mental effort, complexify of work and speed of work resulting in burnout, lack of involvement and dehumanization of patients by staff members. Nurses and other health care staff members are often given training to provide best care and assistance to patients and focus on managing their safety during their stay at the hospital. However, a higher workload without focusing on the shared responsibility of common good is a major cause of dissatisfaction of health care givers, as it increased the risk of hypertension, fatigues, stress, depression, chronic infections, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders etc. (Lehne and Rosenthal, 2017). Similarly, factors like inadequate resources, poor infrastructure of healthcare settings, deterioration of medical equipment and long working hours are responsible for difficult implementation of common good for the professionals working in healthcare settings.
Healthcare staff often experience disrespect in their professional relationships with physicians, patients and their family members through several forms of behaviors like obvious and implied embarrassment, physical attack or damage to privacy. Such experience is responsible for compromising human dignity which is a key principle of CST leading to undermining the human dignity of the staff. Furthermore, some organizational environment and managers’ behavior in the form of discrimination, interference in personal relationships between employees, lack of teamwork, bullying and prejudgments results in compromising the human dignity of healthcare staff (Parandeh et al., 2016 and Massaro, 2015).
There are certain other factors like lack of empowerment, lack of freedom to choose their working plan, lack of control, inability to take their professional decisions is a threat to independence and power of healthcare staff (Parandeh et al., 2016). Here, the focus remains on doing good to patient care and safety, providing best services by the organization and maintain the wellbeing of patients and their families (Parandeh et al., 2016 and Berglund et al., 2010). However, the well-being of healthcare staff is compromised and the principle of shared responsibility of common good is not realized leading to feelings of despair and marginalization and powerlessness of the staff members.
It is to be noted that common good is important as every individual and institution has a social nature while human dignity is an important factor focused on individual freedom and respect (Berglund et al., 2010). It is important that any professional institution carry these two principles while defining the duties and responsibilities of staff members. Same is true for healthcare settings where a common good for patients and staff must be linked with the respect and dignity of health care providers. Any lapse in human dignity affect the morale of the staff leading to low motivation in delivering best care and service to patients and affecting the goal of common good in a negative manner (Parandeh et al., 2016).
Addressing the challenge
In order to resolve the challenge post by non-adherence of common good in healthcare settings, two important interventions are recommended based on the principles of advocacy and community engagement:
Advocacy holds key importance in promoting the common good and protecting human dignity of vulnerable while giving voice to those being ignored (Tomajan, 2012).
Considering the need of advocacy for healthcare staff, it is advised to form committees, councils and quality improvement teams providing them the opportunities to advocate (Almidei, 2010). Here the point-of-advocacy concept needs to be followed for managing concerns related to the work environment and promotion of a positive workplace while advocating for the profession of healthcare (Tomajan, 2012). Here healthcare staff members will be able to represent the needs of their colleagues as well as that of patients. Here multiple groups will be considered while discussing the issues and the propose solutions on nurses and staff in various departments and work groups. Such an approach will help in achieving the goal of common good for the patient, client, nurses, care givers and the population served as a whole.
Furthermore, engagement and empowerment of staff members across organization and involving their representatives at policy making levels will provide opportunities for advocacy of colleagues and for the profession at community, local as well as national level (Benner et al., 2010 and Bartholomew, 2006). Additionally, opportunities of participating in employee forums and town hall meetings should be given to raise awareness of the concerns of the staff. Therefore, healthcare staff members should not only be positioned to advocate proactively for their patients, but also for themselves and the professional community (Gaylord and Grace, 1995).
It is important to initiate true community engagement processes where focus is on meeting others on equal terms where all involved individuals are equal while bringing different gifts to the relationship (Aslin and Brown, 2004). In other words, everyone contributes towards the goal of common good and all get the benefits from the gifts being shared by different people in terms of human community and solidarity (Alhassan et al., 2016). Therefore, a systematic community engagement intervention if suggested to engage community groups in healthcare settings for promoting mutual collaboration between patients and healthcare providers and enhance the motivation and morale of healthcare staff members. Here a collaborative approach between nurses, physicians, care providers and target community groups should be followed to achieve the goal. Such an approach will help in identification of quality gaps as identified by the healthcare providers and improvements can be linked with rewards given for closing the quality care gaps. Here the non-financial incentives in the form of positive relationship with community members and colleagues, sense of duty towards the community and gaining respect from people in the community leading to human dignity principle will help in better morale and high performance of healthcare staff.
Healthcare settings need to focus on the principle of human dignity linked to common good by taking steps of advocacy and community engagement opportunities for staff members. This will help in better results for patients, physicians, care providers, nurses and healthcare settings as well as the communities leading to a high motivation and morale of staff members and efficient care for patients.