Combating Compassion Fatigue
Healthcare providers are at increased risk for compassion fatigue (CF), which has also been called secondary traumatic stress, second hand shock syndrome, secondary stress reaction, and vicarious trauma (ABA, 2011). Compassion fatigue begins to become an issue when caregivers give too much of themselves to others and neglect to provide for their own needs. Neglecting one’s personal needs can be harmful, leading to destructive behaviors and patterns, such as over indulgence and increased sick calls. Over time the provider has a decreased ability to show compassion. This paper will discuss and describe compassion fatigue, warning signs of compassion fatigue, and discuss recovery options for those suffering from compassion fatigue.
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Providers work longer hours and more days per week, at times without necessary tools, are expected to be overly autonomous while providing care, frequently understaffed, all while are trying to live up to the incredibly high standards they have set for themselves. Nurses and other healthcare workers often neglect taking care of themselves during work hours, by missing meal and other designated breaks, including using the restroom less frequently, to allow for extra time to care for others and get things done. This often causes an increased use of sick days, a noticeable decrease in productivity and efficiency, and co-workers criticizing each other and leadership for not being able to functions as they had previously. One of the most harmful symptoms of compassion fatigue is denial. It hinders the provider’s ability to assess for signs of fatigue, anxiety, and stress in themselves and inhibit the individual from beginning the process of recovery (Smith, 2012).
Physical, Emotional and Spiritual needs of Caregivers The strategy to reducing compassion fatigue is to deal with feelings that may arise during and after patient or client interactions. It is also imperative that caregivers stay attached and allied with their own individuality. Some providers will use tangible reminders of their private, individual lives outside of work. Some tactile reminders or cues utilized by providers may be twisting a wedding band on your finger and moving your WOW