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Leveraging Healthcare Professionals’ Emotional Intelligence

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The practice of caring for individuals with profound intellectual disabilities requires that their caregivers connect with and provide treatments to them in extraordinary ways. In many instances this requires acquired measures; not those that are learned clinically or environmentally. Oftentimes, such techniques are acquired via a combination of presumed understanding and trial & error. This is due in large part to the fact that there is limited interaction with people with these types of disabilities in the everyday milieu. There are far less encounters with them on a consistent basis. More often than not, their outings and civil interactions are scheduled and controlled. 

Theoretical societal constructs, however, tend to offer a different purview. Nevertheless, it is common knowledge that while legislative mandates place emphasis on making provisions for the most vulnerable and/or disadvantaged, real-life matters regarding the concerns and voices of people who fit into one or more of those demographics are heard with relatively little congruence or enough concern to impel decision-makers to take actions which are genuine or contrite. This is especially true for the mentally disabled. 

The supposition of late is that caregivers, especially nurses, become liable agents to act independently to assert, as best they can, practices which are both in-depth and person-centered. In recent times, person-centered choice of care is the verbiage that is associated with quality of care rendered. The question then becomes what does person-centered really mean? This question cannot be answered by mere definition alone, but also by the fact that it is usually answered by the methods by which the caregivers choose to provide their monetized services; not necessarily by the way their clientele chooses and/or responds to them. This, of course, is notwithstanding the fact that nearly every vocation has a set of standards and benchmarks.  

Essentially, person-centered care is a plan which affirms that the person seeking treatment self-determines (and to a lesser extent, with the chosen personnel) those to be received and the manner by which they are administered. Theoretically, the goal is to employ desired resources with maximum benefit to yield the best outcomes.  The concept was framed to be more than simple terminology coined to draw funding, but rather purposeful measures to help people become their best selves. 

There remains a critical need for a formal system for providers to help those clients ascend to living up to the American creed, by offering these persons the chance to inherently self-actualize and live optimally. This can best occur via the full utilization of providers’ innate characteristics. It can also happen when the community at large deals with, and leverages, the costs associated with implicit bias and its subsequent consequences. Unlocking that hidden potential to increase advantageous outcomes for all stakeholders has not occurred soundly in practice; rather undertakings and mandates have seemed contrite in nature. The noted statement can be informally validated, and perhaps formally so, often from concerned family members.  

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a mode of thinking which shapes, with the potential to confound, any human being. As it relates to healthcare personnel, it is characterized by the degree to which they perform their job duties, without much consideration for the environment in which that happens. These staff members are hired by organizational managers who deem them to be capable of meeting the extraordinary needs of those who are incapable of doing so for, or by, themselves. Essentially they execute prescriptions, within therapeutic limits, with limited active assistance. No assistance is given when the person is immobile and requires total care. Experience and evidence have shown that, more so than not, these team members have proven to be quite trainable, while some of them do possess those qualities inherently, along with having a fiduciary responsibility & responsiveness. 

It is indeed a great personal and professional endeavor to administer a therapeutic regimen to a group of individuals who are partially or totally incapacitated, without objectifying the disabled individuals. 

Healthcare practitioners who work with disabled people are keenly aware that metabolic and behavioral meltdowns, or exacerbations of known dysfunctions, can stem from internal or environmental stimuli at any given time, regardless of setting. Finding creative, intellectual ways to meet these challenges is what separates those whose practices thrive and produce value-added results, as opposed to those whose aid is nominal, at best. Staff members who perform with a high degree of EI are rarely compensated in accordance with the value they add to the lives of those they equally work with and for; their clientele and colleagues. 

Constructive talents build organizations and cannot be measured in dollars and cents alone. Reimbursement structures and organizational protocols often cause employment loss as a by-product of believing that inanimate capital is far more important human capital. Behavioral strategies that are employed by funding entities tend to devolve into contractual obligations, which are not always sustainable in the long-term.   

Functional partnerships enhance collaborations for care and provision of services. An organization with a strong emotionally-intelligent workforce lends itself to bettering its community and in effect, humankind. By the sheer act of human nature and evolvement, consistent refinements to quality of care, via evidence-based outcomes, leads to the furtherance of life skills and a better lifestyle for everyone. There tends to be a reduction in clinical co-morbidities or adverse consequences. Remaining in-sync and attuned to one’s own needs, desires, and motivations gives credence to this type of declaration. 

On a larger scale, it can also lead to a community feeling less incredulous about, and resistant to, genuine exclusivity. These beliefs and countenances help to relinquish a burdensome notion of mutual commitment and increased awareness of every person’s desire to become his or her best self. In so doing, in the beginning to the end of life, society, as a whole, wins.  

Leveraging Healthcare Professionals’ Emotional Intelligence
Tiffany LaFrance

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