Project CANDOR: Care for the Caregiver program helps the ‘second victim’

Project CANDOR: Care for the Caregiver program helps the ‘second victim’

As part of our participation in Project CANDOR (Communication and Optimal Resolution), Christiana Care is launching June 1 a Care for the Caregiver program for colleagues who feel traumatized due to involvement in an unanticipated patient event while at work.

Heather L. Farley, M.D., FACEP, Medical  Director, Middletown Emergency Department, Director, Care for the Caregiver Program
Heather L. Farley, M.D., FACEP

“Among the hallmark behaviors of The Christiana Care Way are respect and compassionate care for every person,” said Heather L. Farley, M.D., FACEP, medical director of the Middletown Emergency Department and director of the Care for the Caregiver Program. “This holds true when it is one of our own colleagues who is grieving due to the experience of a traumatic or unanticipated event. In these moments, Christiana Care responds with outreach and compassion when a colleague becomes a ‘wounded healer’ or ‘second victim,’” she said.

Christiana Care is creating a Care for the Caregiver team who will provide peer support to physicians and staff at Christiana Care following an adverse patient event. Our goal is to help our health care team members understand what is known about the wounded-healer phenomenon and help employees quickly return to their satisfying professional practice. The program is open to any Christiana Care employee or Medical-Dental Staff member working at a Christiana Care facility.

What is a second victim?

A second victim is a health care team member who is involved in an unanticipated patient event, stressful situation or patient-related injury and who becomes hurt in the sense that he or she is traumatized by the event.

Second victims often:

  • Feel personally responsible for the patient outcome.
  • Feel as though they have failed the patient.
  • Second-guess their clinical skills and knowledge base.

The Care for the Caregiver team

The Care for the Caregiver team is made up of volunteers from a variety of disciplines, including attending physicians, residents, nurses, social workers and chaplains. Team members have been trained in critical incident stress management and  were selected because of their high level of competence in helping second victims.

The Care for the Caregiver team has been created to help:

  • Increase institutional awareness of the second victim phenomenon.
  • Provide consistent, targeted systemwide guidance and support of the second victim.
  • Provide additional resources for the management team to effectively support second victims.

The Care for the Caregiver team will:

  • Provide the second victim with a “safe zone” to express thoughts and reactions to enhance coping.
  •  Ensure that information shared is strictly confidential.Provide one-on-one peer support and explore the staff member’s normal reactions and feelings that often occur after a stressful or traumatic event.

Project CANDOR is a two-year demonstration project to support patients through open communication and optimal resolution when an investigation reveals unexpected patient harm. Funding for the project comes from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Christiana Care is one of only three health systems in the nation to participate in the project, which is also a partnership with the Health Research & Educational Trust of the American Hospital Association.