To Care For Others, Nursing Home Employees (and other caregivers) Need To Also Care For Themselves

Caregiver SelfcareMost people have bad days at work and give less than their best at times. However, if your job is to care for others, your bad day can relate to poor care and even neglect for your patients. Nursing home employees can have very stressful jobs and to ensure they are able to give the best care to the patients, they need to also take care of themselves.

Compassion Fatigue (CF)

A common issue with any caregiver that works with terminal and severely ill patients on a regular basis is compassion fatigue. This syndrome can cause physical, emotional and mental impairment in people who work with patients who have traumatic illnesses. It is commonly seen in nurses and doctors working with cancer and other patients that are severely ill.

The effects of compassion fatigue can be displayed in a variety of ways. It can be felt as exhaustion, irritability, isolation, and depression. If ignored or left untreated, it can result in employees missing work, poor performance and possibly leaving their profession altogether.

Effect On Nursing Home Patients

When caregivers have compassion fatigue, it is ultimately the patients in their care that suffer. One of the many ways caregivers act out is to distance themselves from the cause of the fatigue: the patients. Since many nursing home residents rely on the nursing staff for their every need, the effects on them can be detrimental.

  • Lack of care. Nursing staff suffering from CF tend to lack focus and attention to detail. Cutting corners to get the job done can lead to patients not receiving the attention they need and deserve. CF can cause the person to neglect both themselves and others. The lack of care is commonly demonstrated when nursing home patients develop pressures sores.
  • Human interaction. CF sufferers often distance themselves from others, especially the source of the issue. They even may purposely avoid certain residents, or show hostility towards them. Patients may no longer receive the empathy and interaction from these staff members, only receiving the bare minimum of care.

What Can Be Done?

CF specifically targets people who are in their nature empathic, caring people. They most likely went into the medical profession because they sincerely wanted to help the people they care for. If the symptoms are recognized and they are able to seek help, they can overcome this disorder and become valuable members of their facility’s team again. Nursing home administrations can help identify CF and negate any impact on their residents by:

  • Offer trainings and workshops on CF. Bringing the subject out in the open is the best way to allow people who may be suffering or know a co-worker that is, to recognize the problem and get help.
  • Have support groups and counseling available. Making sure the staff members have access to support and counseling for their problem is important for recovery.
  • Create a work wellness program. Offering gym facilities and classes towards overall health can improve moral and motivate individuals to take care of themselves, leading to the better care of others.

Recognizing CF as a real issue within the nursing home industry is the first step. Helping these workers overcome this issue will help everyone involved. The facility will retain a valued employee, the employee can once again enjoy their job and the residents will get the care they deserve and avoid the development of preventable medical complications.


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Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa
After I read Jonathan’s Nursing Home Blog, I decided to hire him to look into my wife’s treatment at a local nursing home. Jonathan did a great job explaining the process and the laws that apply to nursing homes. I immediately felt at ease and was glad to have him on my side. Though the lawsuit process was at times frustrating, Jonathan reassured me, particularly at my deposition. I really felt like Jonathan cared about my wife’s best interests, and I think that came across to the lawyers for the nursing home. Eric