I live in the Midwest, where the month of August is always hot and humid. The swirling dirt at the ball park sticks to small players, as well as to the rest of us. On one particular day, several members of our Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) are seated in rows on old wooden bleachers, eating hot dogs dripping with mustard while trying to block out the screams and yells of parents and umpires so we can concentrate on the players fielding the play. A group of ten-year-olds is about to win their baseball tournament.
This is just one place where children learn the art of teamwork and commitment—lessons that will carry them through adulthood. Our Social Worker’s son is on the team, and we are his cheering squad on this hot and dusty afternoon. Today we are a team at play. Every day, we are a team at work. But, I’m getting ahead of myself……
Our Hospice office is a modern structure of stone and glass located in a massive complex of office buildings that can only be described as representatives of contemporary architecture. However, we are steeped in traditions, Old World charm, and chocolate.
On a routine Wednesday morning in the middle of the summer, our team gathers around the huge conference room table for our weekly IDT meeting. Here we’ll discuss fifty or more patients currently on our Hospice service—which represents half the total number of patients we supervise. The oak table is well worn, littered with bottomless coffee cups, files, patient charts, and stacks of papers needing signatures from various team members. In the center of the table sit two big clear glass cookie jars.
The walls of the conference room are lined with corkboards and chalkboards. This room is the hub of activity and inspiration for our team.
If you glance to the left, you’ll see the list of patients who will be visited today by members of the Hospice Interdisciplinary Team, or IDT, as well as a list of new referrals for evaluation, a list of new admissions to add to our service, and special events.
A board to the right is covered with “hands” upon which important messages are written. A simple tracing of a hand is cut from yellow construction paper, representing a “pat on the back” from one team member to another. We display these “pats” for everyone to read. As the Executive Director of our team, I started this practice with high hopes, and the results have become a very important means of recognition among team members. Mark Twain once wrote, “I can live two months on a good compliment.” We can, too.