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Supportive Therapies - How to Choose Champions for Program Success

supportive therapies Jun 10, 2021
Debra Reis How to Choose Champions

We are seeing a national and even worldwide movement to bring supportive therapies into healthcare organizations. Supportive therapies are being requested and sought after due to public demand and regulating agencies requesting organizations do more than pharmaceuticals for pain management and other conditions. A huge part of your supportive therapy program success will rely on your staff believing in its importance.  If they are enthusiastic and truly believe these modalities can provide comfort to their patients AND ease their stress, then you have a greater opportunity for success.

Select Your Champion

Another great plan to a successful program is to include champions in your department. In the hospital, these champions may be nurses who are well known for their skill and well respected as a nurse leader.  Some nurse champions may be in school and looking for projects to support their degree requirements. Others might use this opportunity to meet their continuing education for certification or clinical ladder requirements.

Provide your champions with tools to aid in their success. These tools might include a script to help answer questions or concerns. Educational materials that deepen their knowledge of the therapy to be implemented along with policy guidelines. Give them an outline for the supportive therapy presentation and ask them to participate in the information provided their staff and colleagues. 


Education, Experience, and Communication
Give your staff education and “hands on” experience when possible. This action provides them the knowledge and tools to share about the program with their patients and colleagues. It will help build confidence and excitement for the program leading to greater degree of success. When your nursing staff are educated on and experience the supportive therapy, involved in the planning and implementation from the beginning, then you raise your chances for achieving success.  Many programs have failed because the promoters did not include all those who would be impacted by the change. Also, if the program is viewed as “extra work” which outweighs the benefits, then the percentage for success is reduced. Make sure the advantages to the patient are identified as more important than current practice. Keep involvement and staff participation fluid in your program development, implementation, and evaluation. 
Lesson Learned
Initially, when we implemented Healing Touch in our department, we got very few referrals. Patient education and information was provided and those who did receive services reported great benefits. However, the word was not getting out to our staff. So, one unit leader suggested to offer a lunch and learn giving education about our services including Healing Touch. We provided simple explanations about Healing Touch, guided imagery and other relaxation therapies. Next, we had the staff do a “hands on” experience with a partner/coworker. The experience took a total of 10 minutes and they were so amazed at how good they felt! It also was a powerful time to share a healing with a fellow co-worker. We doubled and tripled our referrals after that experience. Currently, our referrals come from nursing, social work, physicians, medical assistants, therapists, and front desk staff! If they see a need, they can provide the patient with the information.

Collaboration is the Key

Keep your staff involved and informed of the program benefits. Ask them how they can improve any areas of concern. This collaboration will give greater success for your program which benefits your staff and can bring improved patient/client outcomes.

Continuing education for any presentation is a benefit. Consider providing a more extensive education for your champions. For example, in our aromatherapy education, we provided unit leaders with a 4 hour class with contact hours so they would have the tools to be a resource for others in their unit.

In summary, as you bring in a supportive therapy program, staff engagement and excitement about the process is crucial to success. Your nurse champions and unit leaders can be a huge asset to the program’s success. Encourage feedback and ideas for areas of concern. This provides empowerment leading to positive patient outcomes. Collaboration is the Key!

To learn more about S.T.E.P. or Supportive Therapy Engagement Program, go to my website


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