Dr. Beth Hudnall Stamm, Ph.D., retired professor, and researcher in the field of traumatic stress, defines compassion as "feeling and acting with deep empathy and sorrow for those who suffer." Caregivers are often compassionate individuals by nature. Compassion is typically considered an asset, but it leaves caregivers at risk for the negative "costs of caring." The "cost of caring" can present as caregiver burnout. Several factors can contribute to caregiver burnout. Some factors include:
Many of you have probably heard about burnout but are not familiar with the concept of compassion fatigue. Unlike burnout, compassion fatigue is a secondary traumatic stress disorder that results from exposure to another person's traumatic experience(s) and creates high levels of emotional stress. "Compassion fatigue is an extreme state of tension and stress that can result in feelings of hopelessness, indifference, pessimism and overall disinterest in other people's issues," explains Christine Valentin, LCSW. Early signs of compassion fatigue include excessive stress, sadness, anger, irritability, and insomnia. Without intervention, over time, health issues can arise and result in high blood pressure, heart disease, substance abuse, vulnerability to illness and much more.
To combat compassion fatigue, early detection is critical. Once recognized you can prevent undesired consequences and support the wellbeing of yourself, your coworkers, and residents. Without early intervention the risk of workplace violence, abuse and neglect will continue to climb. If you notice that you or one of your co-workers are experiencing burnout, take action. Actionable steps include:
Remember as you continue to support wellness and go beyond burnout, the Century Park Vision is to 'create a climate where people feel valued' and our Mission is to 'Create a fulfilling environment where residents and associates thrive through community and belonging.'