Many people will relate to the term compassion fatigue. Also known as secondary traumatic stress, this is a condition in which a person gradually loses compassion over time. This is common among people who work directly with other people that have suffered some kind of trauma. They include therapists (both paid and unpaid) nurses, psychologists, health unit coordinators, first responders and those who help out others.
As a hospice caregiver, you may experience compassion fatigue. Anyone who is involved in this kind of work is likely to experience this condition. However, compassion fatigue and burnout are not the same. This is because burnout occurs in a gradual manner, though insidious onset can occur sometimes. On the other hand, onset of compassion fatigue occurs in an abrupt or acute manner. One day everything will be manageable, but then on the next you will feel as though you cannot handle it anymore.
Compassion Fatigue – Signs and Symptoms
The warning signs of compassion fatigue experienced by caregivers in hospice settings can be categorized as physical, behavioral and psychological:
Physical exhaustion, difficulty in focusing on tasks, insomnia or hypersomnia headaches, increased migraines, susceptibility to falling sick.
Increased use of alcohol or drugs, anger, irritability, exaggerated sense of responsibility, feeling that you are not being appreciated, inability to make decisions, problems related to personal relationships, forgetfulness, and compromised care for patients.
Emotional exhaustion, distancing yourself from others, depression, negative self-image, reduced sensibility to sympathy and empathy, resentment, embitterment, and cynicism.
Compassion Fatigue – How to Know If You Are at Risk
If you are working in a hospice or other healthcare setting, it is important to know the risk factors in order to manage and identify the condition. Working with a large number of terminally ill patients or those that are suffering from chronic or critical illnesses. All of us familiar with the old adage “prevention is better than cure”. If you are a caregiver and if you want to prevent compassion fatigue from setting in, you need to know as to what measures you can take. Some of the steps you can take to reduce the incidence of compassion fatigue include the following:
Spacing your activities and tasks
Writing in a journal on a daily basis
Spending some time in your personal hobbies
Spending time with friends
Taking frequent breaks
Improving your knowledge on disease processes or caregiving
Getting minimum of 8 hours of sleep in the night
Eating a well-balanced diet
Avoiding excessive consumption of caffeine or alcohol
Patting yourself on your back
Laughing; humor is considered to be a powerful medicine
Asking for help whenever required
Not being afraid of saying no
Enjoying the change in seasons
Summarizing, taking care of yourself when you provide care for others, especially in a hospice, is the best method of preventing the onset of compassion fatigue. This way you will be able to provide better care to the needy. If you need speak to someone about compassion fatigue please feel free to contact us at any time. 404-572-9966 and ask to speak with our Director of Nursing. Or you can visit our website and leave your comments there. http://tendertouchatlanta.com/hospice-contact-us