The Antidote to Patient & Caregiver Suffering – Compassionate Connected Care, with Christina Dempsey, Chief Nursing Officer for Press Ganey Associates

This week’s podcast is about the critically important issue of patient suffering & professional caregiver suffering.  This particular episode will speak to you, not only from a professional perspective, but also from a deeply personal one.  If you have ever been a hospitalized patient, or a family member of a patient; or, think that you might someday be a hospitalized patient or family member of a patient, you’ll want to listen to this interview.  

Our guest this week is Christy Dempsey, the Chief Nursing Officer for Press Ganey Associates, who has recently authored a book entitled, ‘The Antidote to Suffering: How Compassionate Connected Care Can Improve Safety, Quality, and Experience’.  Christy has over three decades of experience as a nurse, nurse leader, hospital executive, and a consultant with deep experience in clinical operations, process improvement & patient experience.  Her approach is comprehensive and balanced; and her prescriptions are practical, and grounded in the practice of medicine, as well as in the science of process improvement and business management.  Her stories range from heart breaking to incredibly hopeful.  

In this episode, you’ll learn about the ‘Compassionate Connected Care’ model that Christy has constructed and is deploying in hospitals across the country.  

You’ll also come away with some amazing pearls & actionable take aways.  Here are a few examples:

  • There are two types of suffering – inherent & avoidable; and caregivers often, unknowingly, contribute to or worsen the avoidable suffering that patients and their families experience in the hospital.
  • People from different backgrounds and with different conditions have different susceptibilities to suffering – and knowing the specific painful issues can assist in creating a targeted plan to alleviate that suffering.
  • It doesn’t take a lot of time to alleviate suffering – caregivers can make a strong personal connection with patients in less than a minute or two – what Christy calls the ‘56 second rule’.
  • Professional caregivers – similar to patients – experience both inherent and avoidable suffering or distress; and if we want to alleviate patients’ suffering, we’ll need to make the alleviation of caregiver suffering a major part of our plan.
  • Caregiver resilience is a balance between inherent/added distress and inherent/added reward.  Our goal should be to tip the balance in favor of rewards vs distress.  Christy also introduces us to the concept of ‘Emotional Labor’ and its impact on caregiver resilience & patient experience.
  • Patient distress/suffering is not about professional caregivers being ‘nice’ or creating a ‘wow’ experience.  It’s also not about hitting the patient experience metrics on your hospital’s scorecard.  This is an integral part of clinical care & core to our professional ethic; and closely tied to quality & safety outcomes such as infection rates, hospital length of stay, readmission rates…

Christy is a passionate, highly expert and convincing champion for the cause of alleviating patient & professional caregiver suffering.  What I admire most about Christy, and what she’s doing, is her courage and commitment in speaking out and doing something about a very sensitive issue that most don’t recognize or want to discuss.  Christy definitely joins the pantheon of leaders I’ve interviewed who have devoted their careers, and lives, to creating a new healthcare!

As always, I hope you get as much out of this as I have!