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  • Case study

Recognizing nurses goes a long way

Quality of Life Observer

- Healthcare

- Oct 6 2015

When the Barnes family lost Patrick in 1999 – a son, a husband and a father – they searched for a way to fill the void he left behind. The DAISY Foundation sprung from their need to thank the nurses who stood by them and grew into a source of support for nurses that would ultimately transform the hospital culture.

Recognizing the need for recognition

“When we started, there was so little recognition for the special things that nurses do everyday that make a difference to patients and families,” says Bonnie Barnes, co-founder and president of the American organization, The DAISY Foundation. Given that this concept of recognition was not widely practiced in hospitals, the Barnes family established The DAISY Foundation with a simple process and mission: publicly honor peer-nominated nurses who demonstrate excellence in patient care.

Recognition and the bottom line

Meaningful recognition, Barnes says, does not need to involve money or material things; instead it focuses on valorizing someone in a personal way. “It’s about focusing on the things that matter to nurses – and that is the relationships they form with their patients and their colleagues,” says Barnes. During DAISY Award ceremonies, recipients receive a certificate, a DAISY Award pin, a stone sculpture and a spotlight feature on the organization’s website.

The healthcare facilities that incorporate the DAISY Award into their programs have seen first-hand the benefits of this kind of recognition. The foundation’s research shows that nurses who feel valued and appreciated go on to provide even higher levels of patient care. Industry studies have also shown that recognizing compassionate patient care is significantly and positively associated with hospital ratings and referral rates. With its convincing results, the program has seen a 98 percent retention rate throughout its 2,030 client healthcare centers.

A twist in the program

But there wasn’t always a steady flow of nominations coming in from happy hospitals. The DAISY Foundation began with cold calls to healthcare leaders and the uphill battle of convincing them of the importance of nurse recognition. In fact, nurses themselves needed convincing as well. “Nurses are so universally humble,” says Barnes. “So when we asked nurses to call attention to what they do, they were totally surprised. They just didn’t think they are doing anything extraordinary and didn’t think about nominating each other.”

On top of the modest nature of nurses, there was a fundamental element of the hospital culture that stood in the way: healthcare employees are trained to focus on everything that is going wrong. These issues can run the gamut, from what’s wrong with a patient, flaws in the system or unmotivated employees. “But when they stop and celebrate all of the ‘right’ that is going on, wonderful things can happen,” she says.

Determined to honor the hard work that nurses put in every day and focus on the positive, The DAISY Foundation tweaked its process. Instead of peer nominations, the foundation asked hospitals to turn to patients and families for input. And just like that, the floodgates opened. Today cold calls to prospective clients are a thing of the past – the program flourishes by word of mouth alone. And this concept of meaningful nurse recognition has no borders and knows no cultural boundaries. After being contacted by healthcare facilities in Saudi Arabia, then Bangkok and Taiwan, the DAISY Award expanded internationally and now exists in 14 countries around the globe.

“We started this foundation because we had no other way of dealing with our loss,” says Barnes. “But today, this is all about gratitude – people just want a way to say thank you.”

On the picture from left to right: K.Cox, H.Godshall, C.Hunt, R.ODonnell and Bonnie Barnes, CEO of Daisy Foundation

Read the stories of DAISY Award nurses at DAISYFoundation.org

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