Creating teaming and support with the Coalition daily huddle
By Hannah Mogul-Adlin
Every morning at the Camden Coalition, music, laughter, and cheering can be heard from the big room that houses most of our Care Management Initiatives (CMI) team. It’s the sound of the daily huddle, a 15 minute check-in for the nurses, community health workers, social workers, and managers who spend most of their days in hospitals and in patients’ homes.
Daily huddles are beginning to be recognized as an important strategy for managing teams that provide complex care. Renee Murray, Associate Clinical Director at the Camden Coalition, knows why.
“The work that we do is intense and a lot of the team is running around in the community all day long,” she says. “The huddle creates the time and the space for everyone to come together.”
In 2014, Renee instituted the huddle for the CMI team along with her then co-manager Victor Murray, now Director of Care Management Initiatives.
“When we started doing it, we really saw a shift— a shift in the team, in the room, in the morale, in the energy,” Renee says. “In the beginning people were hesitant, but once we made it a consistent routine, people were eager and looking forward to it. There was positivity in the room, there was more communication in the room.”
Though the huddle happens every day, not every day is the same. The schedule, which has evolved over time with the input of team members, now includes line dancing every Monday, a priorities check-in on Tuesdays, a Wednesday check-in between the hospital and community teams, “Thumbs-up Thursdays” where team members give each other shout-outs, and “Freestyle Fridays” which can be anything from an office-wide conga line to a chance to download feelings with team members before the weekend. Every huddle includes time for announcements about upcoming events, and ends with everybody putting their hands in for the word of the week.
“The most important thing about the huddle is that no one person made the decision of what the huddle should look like,” says Jeneen Skinner, Clinical Manager for Community Operations. “That’s why people embraced it.”
The huddle is also a way to ensure that we are providing trauma-informed care to our patients and to each other. “In this work, we are dealing with complex situations that can cause vicarious trauma,” says Andrew Katz, Senior Program Manager for the CMI team. “There is a need to create an environment that is not only supportive, but fun. The healthier people are mentally, the better work they can do with our clients, and the more open and present they can be with our clients.”
Jeneen agrees. “You never know what someone on the team might be going through,” she says. “Having this huddle and being among my team members can help me get through whatever I’m going through, and can make my day more productive.”
The huddle is one of the unique aspects of the Coalition’s care model that we teach to guests from around the city and country. Many Coalition external meetings and conferences open with a line dance. “Everybody loves the idea,” says Renee. “We have CEOs coming to meetings and starting with a line dance. It takes people out of their comfort zone, and sets the tone for the organization and for who we are.”