What is 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.
- 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.
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 supports 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.