Code Lavender

May 28, 2024 | Health and Wellness

Understanding Code Lavender

In the fast-paced world of healthcare, emotional well-being is often overshadowed by the pressing need to address physical ailments. Yet, the emotional and psychological toll on healthcare providers, patients, and their families cannot be understated. This is where Code Lavender steps in—a holistic, compassionate approach to crisis intervention designed to support the emotional and psychological needs of everyone in a healthcare setting.

Code Lavender originated at the Cleveland Clinic, a healthcare institution known for its innovative approaches to patient care. Recognizing the high levels of stress and emotional exhaustion among healthcare workers, the Cleveland Clinic introduced Code Lavender as a means to provide immediate emotional support during crises. This initiative aimed to create a supportive environment where staff, patients, and families could find relief and regain their emotional equilibrium.


What is Code Lavender?

At its core, Code Lavender is an evidence-based, rapid response protocol designed to address acute emotional distress. It is activated in situations where individuals—be they healthcare providers, patients, or their families—experience significant stress or emotional turmoil. The intervention is akin to psychological first aid, providing immediate support to help individuals cope with the crisis and navigate their emotions.

When a Code Lavender is called, a team of trained professionals, often including chaplains, holistic nurses, social workers, and volunteers, responds within minutes.

This team offers a variety of supportive measures, such as:

• Emotional Support: Providing a listening ear and a comforting presence to those in distress.
• Spiritual Care: Offering prayers, meditation, or other spiritual practices as requested.
• Complementary Therapies: Utilizing techniques such as aromatherapy, Reiki, and guided imagery to promote relaxation and emotional healing.
• Practical Assistance: Providing snacks, beverages, and other comfort items to help soothe and support individuals during the crisis.

The Role of Lavender in Code Lavender

Lavender, a plant renowned for its calming properties, plays a symbolic and practical role in Code Lavender. The use of lavender essential oil in aromatherapy is a cornerstone of this intervention. Scientific studies have shown that lavender can reduce anxiety, improve mood, and promote relaxation. In Code Lavender, lavender-scented items, such as our Lavender Refreshment Towels, are used to provide a sensory experience that helps individuals feel more grounded and at ease.

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Implementation of Code Lavender

Implementing Code Lavender in a healthcare setting involves several key steps:

Training and Preparation: Healthcare staff and volunteers receive training on how to recognize signs of emotional distress and how to provide effective support. This training often includes techniques in active listening, crisis intervention, and the use of complementary therapies.
Establishing Protocols: Clear protocols are established for when and how to call a Code Lavender. These protocols ensure that the intervention is used appropriately and effectively.
Assembling the Response Team: A dedicated team of professionals, including chaplains, holistic nurses, and social workers, is assembled to respond to Code Lavender calls. This team is on standby and can respond quickly when needed.
Creating a Supportive Environment: Spaces within the healthcare facility are designated for Code Lavender interventions. These spaces are designed to be calm and comforting, providing a safe haven for those in distress.


Benefits of Code Lavender

The benefits of Code Lavender are manifold, impacting both the individuals directly involved and the broader healthcare environment.

For Healthcare Providers:
• Emotional Resilience: By providing immediate support during times of crisis, Code Lavender helps healthcare providers build emotional resilience. This resilience is crucial in maintaining their mental health and preventing burnout.
• Improved Job Satisfaction: Knowing that there is a system in place to support their emotional well-being can significantly improve job satisfaction among healthcare providers. This, in turn, can lead to better patient care and lower turnover rates.

For Patients and Families:
• Enhanced Emotional Support: Patients and their families often experience significant emotional stress during hospital stays. Code Lavender offers them a compassionate and supportive environment, helping them cope with their emotions and feel more at ease.
• Holistic Care: By addressing both the physical and emotional needs of patients, Code Lavender promotes a more holistic approach to healthcare. This can lead to better overall outcomes and a more positive healthcare experience.

For the Healthcare Institution:
• Positive Workplace Culture: Implementing Code Lavender contributes to a positive workplace culture where emotional well-being is prioritized. This can lead to increased staff morale and a more supportive work environment.
• Enhanced Reputation: Healthcare institutions that adopt Code Lavender demonstrate a commitment to compassionate care. This can enhance their reputation and attract both patients and healthcare providers who value a holistic approach to health and wellness.


Case Study: Code Lavender at Hillcrest Hospital

To illustrate the impact of Code Lavender, let’s look at a real-life example from Hillcrest Hospital, a 496-bed acute care hospital that is part of the Cleveland Clinic. In 2016, Hillcrest Hospital implemented a Code Lavender intervention for a group of caregivers who had been intimately involved with a patient over a three-week hospitalization before she died unexpectedly.

The Code Lavender team at Hillcrest included representatives from spiritual care, healing services, employee assistance, and volunteers. When the code was called, the team responded within 30 minutes, providing emotional support, complementary therapies, and practical assistance to the distressed caregivers.

The intervention included:

• An opening prayer and introductions by the chaplain.
• A listening round where each participant spoke uninterrupted for two minutes.
• A conversation facilitated by the team to help participants process their emotions.
• Distribution of supportive materials, such as mandalas and aromatherapy inhalers.

The response from the staff was overwhelmingly positive. They appreciated the immediate support and the opportunity to process their emotions in a safe and structured environment. The intervention not only helped them cope with the specific crisis but also contributed to a greater sense of community and support within the hospital.


Expanding Code Lavender: The Role of Employee Wellness Programs

As the benefits of Code Lavender become more widely recognized, many healthcare institutions are incorporating this intervention into their broader employee wellness programs. Employee wellness programs aim to promote the overall well-being of staff, addressing physical, emotional, and mental health needs.

By integrating Code Lavender into these programs, healthcare institutions can provide a more comprehensive support system for their employees.

This integration can include:

• Regular Training Sessions: Offering ongoing training for staff on how to recognize signs of emotional distress and how to support their colleagues.
• Wellness Workshops: Hosting workshops on topics such as stress management, mindfulness, and self-care.
• Access to Complementary Therapies: Providing access to complementary therapies, such as aromatherapy and meditation, as part of the wellness program.
• Peer Support Networks: Establishing peer support networks where staff can connect with and support each other.


The Future of Code Lavender

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, the importance of addressing emotional well-being will only grow. Code Lavender represents a crucial step in this direction, offering a compassionate and holistic approach to crisis intervention.

Looking ahead, there are several ways in which Code Lavender can be expanded and enhanced:

• Research and Evaluation: Conducting research to evaluate the long-term impact of Code Lavender on staff well-being and patient outcomes. This research can help refine the intervention and demonstrate its value to healthcare institutions.
• Technology Integration: Exploring ways to integrate technology into Code Lavender, such as using mobile apps to provide immediate access to support resources.
• Community Outreach: Expanding Code Lavender beyond the hospital setting to provide support to the broader community. This could include partnerships with local organizations and community groups to offer holistic crisis intervention services.


Code Lavender is more than just an intervention; it is a testament to the power of compassion and holistic care in the healthcare setting. By addressing the emotional and psychological needs of healthcare providers, patients, and their families, Code Lavender promotes a supportive and healing environment for all.

As healthcare institutions continue to recognize the importance of emotional well-being, the implementation of Code Lavender will likely become more widespread. This holistic approach not only enhances the well-being of individuals but also contributes to a more positive and resilient healthcare system.

Incorporating lavender’s soothing properties into this intervention adds an extra layer of comfort, highlighting the profound connection between nature and healing.