“A poll of over 1,000 NHS workers in primary care, including GPs, practice nurses, practice managers and their colleagues, showed that work is currently the most stressful area of their lives, ahead of their finances, health, family life and relationships.”
MIND report, 2016
Compassion Fatigue in Human Care workers
Looking after other people is rewarding, but it carries its own challenges. When you add in outside factors like budget cuts, increasing targets, and high staff turnover, those challenges can start to feel insurmountable.
Doctors, nurses, care staff and volunteers are all equally at risk from Compassion Fatigue. If your job requires you to support others going through a traumatic period in their life — or to deliver heartbreaking news to their families — you are naturally going to begin to suffer what we call “Vicarious Trauma”. This is what happens when you expose yourself to suffering day after day. Your brain can’t distinguish between events which happen to you and those that happen to other people, and so you are suffering an onslaught of bad news, every single time you go to work.
Compassion Fatigue is a common issue among Human Care workers. Your calling to help other people is what drew you into your career, but it can also be what puts you at risk when you begin to care too much about others, and not enough about your own wellbeing.
Why Human Care workers are at risk
If you take care of humans, you may be particularly at risk from Compassion Fatigue, for several reasons:
- In human-care work, there is a constant “drip, drip, drip” of being immersed in other people’s pain and suffering.
- A lack of resources, and a shortfall of staff, in human-care means you may constantly feel you’re not doing a good-enough job, and that you are letting your patients and colleagues down.
- The media has portrayed nurses and care-workers as cruel and uncaring. Some nursing home staff are ashamed to tell people where they work as they feel stigmatised.
- Pressures from NHS targets put people last, not first.
- You might feel unable to share how you feel because of an uncaring, judging, “man up” culture.
Are you suffering from Compassion Fatigue?
We’ve created a simple test you can take now to discover if you’re currently suffering from Compassion Fatigue. Take the test here.
What you can do
How can you lessen your risk of Compassion Fatigue? In truth, you can’t. All you can do is be aware of the risk, understand the symptoms, and have strategies in place to manage the stress when it (inevitably) arises.
Compassion Fatigue Awareness training
To find out more, contact us.
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of Human Care workers think about work when they are at home
of Human Care workers work longer than they are paid to
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