Trauma-Informed Care

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We Believe In Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-informed care shifts the focus from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” A trauma-informed approach to care acknowledges that health care organizations and care teams need to have a complete picture of a patient’s life situation — past and present — in order to provide effective health care services with a healing orientation. Adopting trauma-informed practices can potentially improve patient engagement, treatment adherence, and health outcomes, as well as provider and staff wellness. It can also help reduce avoidable care and excess costs for both the health care and social service sectors.

Trauma-informed care seeks to:

 

  • Realize the widespread impact of trauma and understand paths for recovery;

  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in patients, families, and staff;

  • Integrate knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices; and

  • Actively avoid re-traumatization.

(Adapted from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s “Trauma-Informed Approach.”)

A comprehensive approach to trauma-informed care must be adopted at both the clinical and organizational levels. Too frequently, providers and health systems attempt to implement trauma-informed care at the clinical level without the proper support necessary for broad organizational culture change. This can lead to uneven, and often unsustainable, shifts in day-to-day operations. This narrow clinical focus also fails to recognize how non-clinical staff, such as front desk workers and security personnel, often have significant interactions with patients and can be critical to ensuring that patients feel safe.

What are the principles of trauma-informed care?

Following are recognized core principles of a trauma-informed approach to care that are necessary to transform a health care setting:

  • Safety - Throughout the organization, patients and staff feel physically and psychologically safe.

  • Trustworthiness + Transparency - Decisions are made with transparency, and with the goal of building and maintaining trust.

  • Peer Support - Individuals with shared experiences are integrated into the organization and viewed as integral to service delivery.

  • Collaboration - Power differences — between staff and clients and among organizational staff — are leveled to support shared decision-making.

  • Empowerment - Patient and staff strengths are recognized, built on, and validated — this includes a belief in resilience and the ability to heal from trauma.

  • Humility + Responsiveness - Biases and stereotypes (e.g., based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, geography) and historical trauma are recognized and addressed