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Supporting nurses in self-care

A nurse’s health can affect the care they provide to patients. The Code of Conduct outlines that nurses have an obligation to maintain their health and seek help if their health affects their ability to practice safely. Research shows that physical and emotional fatigue can reduce cognitive functioning including decision-making, memory and attention[i]. Personal and professional lives will have ups and downs. Employers play a key role in supporting nurses in self-care.

Here are some guiding questions to help employers reflect on how your organization currently supports nurses in self-care:

  • Does your organization foster a culture of self-care for employees?
  • What services or programs does your organization offer to employees to support self-care?

Here are some suggested strategies to consider implementing within your organization:

  • Promoting or hosting mindfulness interventions. Employers can access a variety of information, including free online apps to guide mindfulness, breathing exercises and meditation.
  • Encouraging communication between colleagues and staff members so they can better support and rely on one another.
  • Offering stress management workshops or self-care education sessions during lunch
  • Supporting employees access to counselling or therapy options.
  • Promoting the Nurse’s Health Program, a voluntary program that focuses on early identification and referral for treatment of mental health and substance use disorders.

Nurses taking care of themselves not only benefits patients, it benefits nurses with increased job and life satisfaction, relaxation and better physical health[ii].

Self care fact sheet


[i] Hume, L. (2018). An investment in staff well-being. Nursing Management, 49(12), 9-11
Johnson, J., Hall, L. H., Berzins, K., Baker, J., Melling, K., & Thompson, C. (2018). Mental healthcare staff well-being and burnout: A narrative review of trends, causes, implications, and recommendations for future interventions. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 27(1), 20-32.
Lee, T. S. H., Tzeng, W. C., & Chiang, H. H. (2019). Impact of Coping Strategies on Nurses' Well‐Being and Practice. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 51(2), 195-204.   
[ii] Johnson, J., Hall, L. H., Berzins, K., Baker, J., Melling, K., & Thompson, C. (2018). Mental healthcare staff well-being and burnout: A narrative review of trends, causes, implications, and recommendations for future interventions. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 27(1), 20-32. 
Page last reviewed April 29, 2020