Read the articles listed in the readings for this module and use them as a starting point for researching the topic of compassion fatigue, caregiver burnout, and related issues. Evaluate your sources to make sure they are academically sound and useful to your study. Compile concepts and resources to help yourself when facing burnout as you care for patients.
In 1,250-1500 words, summarize your findings. Be sure to include the following:
Identify the warning signs for at least five concepts of compassion fatigue.
Present the nature of the problems and their causes.
Explain the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the caregiver.
Finally, give examples of coping strategies and resources you can use to help you, the caregiver.
Prepare this assignment according to the APA guidelines found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center. An abstract is not required.
This assignment uses a grading rubric. Instructors will be using the rubric to grade the assignment; therefore, students should review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the assignment criteria and expectations for successful completion of the assignment.
Combating Compassion Fatigue
Preventing burnout or compassion fatigue is the goal, but the reality of suffering bouts of exhaustion at some points while giving care may be inevitable. Suffering from continual fatigue and hopelessness, however, is avoidable. It is a battle that must be fought with a commitment to personal health and well-being (Chapman, 2007). Health care professionals and others who give care must be determined to seek balance and health in their own physical, emotional, and spiritual lives in order to deliver the kind of care their patients need and deserve. No one is superhuman, so all must seek help.
Caring for Self
Although some people would consider caring for self a type of selfishness, it is in many ways the best way to also prepare to care for others. What good is a caregiver who is so tired that he or she cannot determine the needs of the patient, or so sad that he or she feels hopeless? If a caregiver is so weak that he or she is unhealthy physically, emotionally, or spiritually, the caregiver in essence has become a patient and needs care also. Caregivers need to see themselves as people who may also need help, and seek help before these needs become liabilities when caring for the patient. In order to be sure they are healthy enough to serve others, caregivers must look for opportunities to make good choices for themselves. They need to eat healthy food, take breaks, get good exercise, listen to music or play and sing their own music, read, avoid unhealthy habits, and find some opportunities to laugh and cry. Everyone needs balance and the ones who are caring for others in stressful situations especially need to make sure they are pursuing balance in their own lives.
Being Physically Healthy
One of the first ways for a caregiver to increase or promote health and balance is to add a personal commitment to regular exercise. Many people feel they do not have time to add anything to their busy lives. The problem with their perception is that without wellness and balance, their lives are not as productive, nor as happy, as they could be. Busyness is creeping into people’s lives to such an extent that it is almost becoming a badge of honor to be too busy to do something. The challenge that busyness poses, however, is the diminishing of health. Without proper nutrition, proper activity, and proper rest, a body rebels with decreased immunity to common illnesses. Taking the time to walk outside for half an hour or an hour over the lunch hour would add productivity to the rest of the day because the body would have been recharged by the change of scenery and cardiovascular exercise. By the same token, a trip to the grocery store for some healthy foods would be much healthier than a quick stop at a fast food establishment or even a popular restaurant. Making a few good but initially inconvenient choices would improve one’s outlook and overall happiness.
Being Spiritually Healthy
Another area of life in which good choices are often avoided is the arena of spirituality. People feel they do not have time for spiritual things, but failing to address spiritual needs causes a spiritual version of an unhealthy body. It may not be immediately visible, but a life lived devoid of spiritual health will suffer. Although human beings were created with a mind, body, and soul, the soul receives very little attention from many people. They may be interested in having healthy bodies, but give no thought to their souls. Just as the physical body needs rest, recuperation, and healthy nutrition, the soul needs time for spiritual restoration, encouragement, and faith-building. Taking time every morning, for example, for spiritual nourishment and meditation adds health to the soul. Stopping on the weekend to rest and focus on God is essential to overall health. That is not to say that if one works on the weekend, one cannot lead a healthy spiritual life. Those who work on the weekend need to find their own weekend during the week and take comparable time to rest, worship, and refuel spiritually. Although spirituality includes a community aspect and interaction with others who give and receive encouragement, when schedules do not mesh, one must take the time to recharge alone with God.
Being Emotionally Healthy
As previously mentioned, human beings are made up of mind, body, and soul. An awareness of the need for protecting the mind would help many people live healthier lives overall. Just as it is essential to exercise and rest the body and the spirit, it is essential to take time for mental stimulation and time for relaxation. Also, after a person has run a marathon, he or she knows that it is essential to do certain things to restore balance and health to the muscles that have been overused. By the same token, health care workers who have given care for extended periods of time or experienced traumas during their workday need to allow themselves time and consideration for recovery and a restoration of emotional health. They may need a significant emotional outlet. They may need time to cry or time to laugh. They may need comfort or they may just need time and space. Each person needs to make careful choices to recover emotional health after expending the kind of energy required in health care.
Personal health care choices are essential but, by their very nature, they are personal. No one can make decisions for anyone else about these matters. Each person needs to decide how to find balance, energy, and wellness in all important aspects of life. The physical, the spiritual, and the emotional all require care, especially for one who is providing care for others. Finding others who will participate in the healthy exercise of mind, body, and soul would be greatly beneficial, but ultimately each person decides for himself and chooses whether to be healthy and balanced.
Chapman, E. (2007). Radical loving care: Building the healing hospital in America. Nashville, TN: Vaughn Printing.
© 2011. Grand Canyon University. All Rights Reserved.
1. Module 4 Lecture
Module 4 Lecture
1. Compassion Fatigue: Are you at Risk?
Read “Compassion Fatigue: Are you at Risk?” by Bush, from the Oncology Nursing Forum (2009).
2. Program to Combat ‘Compassion Fatigue’
Read “Program to Combat ‘Compassion Fatigue’,” from the Hospice Management Advisor (2010).
3. Overcoming Burnout: How to Revitalize Your Career
Read “Overcoming Burnout: How to Revitalize Your Career” by Espeland, from the Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing (2006).
4. A Study of Job Stress, Stress Coping Strategies, and Job Satisfaction for Nurses Working in Middle-Level Hospital Operating Rooms
Read “A Study of Job Stress, Stress Coping Strategies, and Job Satisfaction for Nurses Working in Middle-Level Hospital Operating Rooms” by Chen, Lin, Wang, and Hou, from the Journal of Nursing Research (2009).
5. Managing Stress
Read “Managing Stress in a Palliative Care Team” by Gupta and Woodman, from the Paediatric Nursing(2010).
6. Coping Processes in a Multidisciplinary Healthcare Team
Read “Coping Processes in a Multidisciplinary Healthcare Team — a Comparison of Nurses in Cancer Care and Hospital Chaplains” by Ekedahl and Wengstrom, from the European Journal of Cancer Care(2008).
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