The Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion, IL, has made wellness and a holistic approach to staff and patients so much a part of its culture that its created what it calls several “renewal rooms.”
These small sanctuaries are relaxing spaces with calm, cool colors, softened lighting, a massage chair, a mini-waterfall, jars of essential oils, a bookshelf, and additional soothing features.
“It’s a space where the rules are, ‘Do not bring in a phone or pager – no electronic distractions,’” says Adrienne Schultz, RN, HN-BC, assistant vice president of patient care services at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
“We took a small space that was originally used for storage and repurposed it to allow for a space for our stakeholders to take a few minutes to focus, relax, and renew themselves,” Schultz says. “We provided a massage chair, aromatherapy, an opportunity to do some journaling, music therapy, and whatever the stakeholder feels will help them relax.”
The center’s staff can enter the room whenever a busy or stressful day wears them down. Employees generally spend 10 to 15 minutes in the room.
“A few minutes of self-care allows them to center and help their patients,” Schultz says.
The original room was so successful – used 422 times in the first three months – that the center studied overall pre- and post-use anxiety among nurses who went into the renewal room. Anxiety was measured based on the Likert scale.
“We saw a dramatic decrease in their anxiety levels,” Schultz reports. “Ninety percent of the people who went into the room used three of the relaxation techniques; the most commonly used were aromatherapy, massage therapy, and music therapy.”
In fact, it was such a success, the organization decided to open additional renewal rooms, putting a new one on each floor of its inpatient tower, which opened last fall.
“We’re trying to educate all of our teams about self-care,” Schultz explains. “It’s something they don’t really teach you in school, and to us, here, it’s a really important part of being fully present for your patient – taking care of yourself, including getting appropriate lunch breaks.”
The center’s employees have expressed gratitude for the renewal room and for the organization’s commitment to expanding it into the new building’s space, she notes.
“When you design a building and look at the square footage and floor layout, the square footage is at a premium,” Schultz says. “We were very intentional about building that renewal room into the space, and they’re grateful we afforded that for them.”
When the first renewal room opened, they tried using a sign-up sheet to schedule time, but quickly found that this didn’t work well, she notes.
“As a practitioner, you can’t schedule when you’ll feel overwhelmed,” Schultz says.
So the schedule was abandoned and it’s open on a first-come, first-serve basis. If the room is occupied, a door slider indicates that it’s in use.
“We’ve never had an issue where it was needed and wasn’t available,” Schultz says.