How management can aid health workers to overcome compassion fatigue. part 1

Fulfilment in healthcare is often times driven by caring for the ill and positive outcomes after illness, particularly for those traumatised. This motivation is carried on by values such as compassion and empathy. However, injuries cumulate for the health care provider from physical and psychological engagements. Compassion fatigue (CF) as described here is one such occupational hazard for which nurses have a high-risk mean. This is according to a research by Kariuki et. al done in Kenya.

Compassionate care is a basic tenet in the provision of healthcare, assisting patients in need brings compassion satisfaction (Slatten, 2011) which is the basic goal of resolving CF.

Creation and implementation of administrative interventions against compassion fatigue are aimed at reducing the Detriments of Compassion Fatigues on patients, human resource & the organization. These will go a long way in ensuring individuals work effectively and organizational goals are met. Moreover, it cutbacks on challenges such as; high turnover decreased productivity highlighted here.

Employers take a large responsibility in ensuring employees feel supported and set up support systems whenever traumatic experiences occur in the workplace. These include;

1. Patient reassignments & Change Overs; Regular rotation of staff and time off duty

Implementing change overs protects healthcare providers from continuously working in traumatizing environments. This reduces the risk of  CF. In cases where changeovers are not possible, setting up a balanced work shift that grants adequate rest time (Kariuki et al., 2017) including biological breaks.

Patient reassignments, limiting or diversifying the caseload mix is so that the percentage of trauma patients is reduced for each individual nurse. This eases the pressure on individuals and makes work less burdensome. Characteristics of a balanced patient load during assignments include interposing less emotionally distressed cases with demanding cases (Slatten, 2011).

Public and nonprofit health contexts exhibit such concerns as often, they receive high caseloads. This, working in this environment may increase susceptibility to CF than other colleagues.  Sprang et al.  suggest implementing optimal caseload mix, particularly in these healthcare settings in equal manageable parts (Slatten, 2011).

2. Formal mentoring programs;

A formal measurable program assists in the creation of supportive professional relationships between experienced nurses and those at entry level. Experienced nurses have gradually established functional adaptation mechanisms such as dealing with stress which other nurses can learn from. It is not surprising therefore that CF is less prevalent with increasing age and experience (Inzer & Crawford, 2005).

Mentorship upholds employee/employer relations which is an exceptional retention device. The employees feel more valued and have a stronger association with the organization thereby leading to increased employee retention.

Implement a strong formal student preceptor relationships.

Mentors can be both in-house or from external organizations or individual volunteers.

3. Employee training on holistic self-care and CF recognition

Employees who recognize symptoms of CF within themselves and others are better placed to seek help for themselves and assist others. They learn coping mechanisms from stress reduction programs and are able to cope effectively when dealing with patients in crises. Primary care workers are trained in the creation of work-life balance by skillfully separating the two spheres through mindfulness & relaxation techniques.

Slatten suggests employees participate in workshops and aimed at developing ‘‘caring distancing.’’Developing a professional distance is appropriate to reduce CF vulnerability, in other terms, some level of emotional disengagement in crises (Slatten, 2011).

Specialized trauma training raises self-efficacy which provides protection from compassion fatigue. However, in the attainment of effectiveness, it is important to maintain compassion and empathy which are basic principles that motivate patient care.

4. compassionate organizational culture;

In compassionate organizations, public acts of compassion go a long way in mentoring employees on how to deal with trauma. This contagious act reinforces others in the organization to act empathetically (Slatten, 2011).

Compassionate organizational culture means compassion is forecasted, acknowledged, appreciated and applauded (Slatten, 2011).

This strongly depends on the professional environment that is often directed by managers when giving an audience to colleagues cases supportively. This way employees can express their pain, a meaning is assigned to suffering and assistance is provided.

Rather than stifling distress, nurses can get assistance and focus better on their jobs. or suppressing distress, employees can deal with it so they can begin refocusing on their job. (Slatten, 2011).

¨Teamwork culture allows employees to reach out to each other whenever they go through distress and constructively support each other. Organizations can promote a culture where clinicians feel they can depend on their colleagues in their times of need and develop managers for these workers who practice a leadership style that promotes the joint vision, creativity, and problem-solving¨Slatten, 2011

Organizational commitment & job satisfaction is further solidified by the compassionate nature of supervisors and managers towards grieving employees (Slatten, 2011).

Rural providers are highly likely to experience CF than urban providers due to geographical reasons and seclusion. Telehealth network can contribute to support systems. (Slatten, 2011).

5. Organizational support of employee skills development; Continuing education and skills acquisition.

Through specialization and continuous professional development, we gain autonomy which is important for emotional well being. Psychological endurance, problem-solving skills & confidence in the caring process is enhanced through CPDs.

The second part of this episode will run on Tuesday 25th September 2018.

2 thoughts on “How management can aid health workers to overcome compassion fatigue. part 1

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.