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By Blair Whitfield, PharmD

Gayco Healthcare Consultant Pharmacist


I always knew that individuals that work in nursing homes and assisted living facilities have to be very special people.  They must be compassionate, strong, loving, and kind to a previous generation of people who often depend upon them for their daily needs. They are their voice, their support, and often their mind.  When my grandfather was placed in the nursing home for rehabilitation, I experienced first-hand the “angels” that made his stay so much better than I could have ever expected.  He was there for sixty days, and I never let a day go by that I did not visit the facility to check on him.  I was able to see the workers interact with him and how they treated him so special.

The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed me to again think about the nursing home and assisted living facility workers. The pandemic has taken a mental and emotional toll on Americans across the country. Healthcare workers feel the burden of this crisis the most. The health and well-being of staff as they navigate this challenging time is essential.  Healthcare workers can work together to help prevent burnout.

Get support from co-workers by using a buddy system. In a buddy system, two employees partner together to support each other and monitor each other’s stress, workload, and safety.

The goals of the buddy system are to:

  • Get to know each other. Talk about background, interests, hobbies, and family. Identify each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Keep an eye on each other. Try to work in the same location if you can.
  • Set up times to check-in with each other. Listen carefully and share experiences and feelings. Acknowledge tough situations and recognize accomplishments, even small ones.
  • Offer to help with basic needs such as transportation.
  • Monitor each other’s workloads. Encourage each other to take breaks. Share opportunities for stress relief (rest, routine sleep, exercise, and deep breathing).

Workers who are healthy and happy in their occupation are excited about doing a great job.  This will translate to a better employee.  Better employees take care of their patients, and the patients are why we all work in the healthcare field!