Caregiver burnout is a serious workplace hazard. If you don’t have proper measures set in place to assist your employees through their workday, then you’re bound for caregiver burnouts. To ward this off from existence at your home care agency, then read further about what it is and the 8 ways to prevent it.
Professional caregivers were born with two hands like the rest of us, but their work demands a million more.
This juggling act is what makes a caregiver’s job so unsustainable and their selflessness is what keeps them blind to it.
So, if you’ve witnessed signs of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion in your professional caregiver employees, then you’ve witnessed caregiver burnout.
As manager, this is usually when you step in; however, if you could prevent caregiver burnout from happening in the first place, your employees will thank you for it.
Caregiver burnout is a reality. Know how to identify it and know how to take preventative measures to stop it, because leaving it untreated is a harm to your business as a whole, but most importantly, your employees.
What Causes Caregiver Burnout?
Although caregiving is a profession made up of many beautiful acts, when it is left unmonitored, it can turn to something ugly.
Empathetic, sympathetic, and all things humanitarian, this is what a caregiver possesses.
It’s a gift but also a curse. Oftentimes, people who fall into this career path find it difficult to stay detached; they begin to internalize everything (both good and bad!).
All day long, your caregivers are following demands. Whether it’s to make supper, or to stop by the nearby pharmacy to pick up medicine, or to simply get their clients in and out of places; caregivers are a client’s everything. When someone is consumed by another’s needs, it leaves very little for their own.
Your employees have family life of their own to attend to, a desire for happy moments with their friends, and a need for a healthy diet and active lifestyle as well. This all requires time and a mental capacity untouched by another human’s needs.
Caregiving is a job that can start from morning and end at night, not leaving much space for anything of their own. Once this becomes a habit, your caregivers almost reach a point of guilt where they are unable to think of themselves. Illnesses, old age, and other negative energy, occupy all corners of their world and mind: mentally, emotionally, and physically. This is what causes caregiver burnout and this is what can damage not only their lives, but the lives of their clients.
What Are the Signs of Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiver burnout symptoms are sometimes hidden and only visible to those closest to the employee while for others it’s strong enough to merely sense their sadness in the air; whatever it may be, it’s your job to look out for it. The good news is that the signs of caregiver burnout are incredibly distinctive, no matter what, if you know what to look for. Here is a list of caregiver burnout symptoms to help you know what you should take as a warning:
- Spending time alone instead of with loved ones
- No longer interested in hobbies they were previously active in
- Acting somber
- Negative outlook
- Feeling anxiety and anguish towards work
- Increased number of sick days
- Exemplifying signs of self harm or harm to the clients they care for
- Lacking patience (mood swings)
- Excessive weight loss or gain indicates a change in appetite
- Signs of neglect towards their own personal health
- Difficulty handling everyday activities
Now that you know what attitudes, emotions, and physical appearances are a mark of concern, here are very easy and doable ways to keep your organization filled with happy, healthy caregivers.
Keep an Open Line of Communication
Together, your staff is strong, but because caregiving is a service given at individual homes this forces your team members to act alone. Stripped away from any form of assistance, this is when your caregivers are most susceptible to overload or caregiver burnout.
However, just because they are out of your sight, doesn’t mean they have to stay out of mind. To keep up with their burdens, keep an open communication line to each of your staff members, where they can contact you at a moment’s notice, and vice versa.
Making your caregivers feel like you want them to voice their needs will be a game changer. It will give you more clarity, all while erasing the pressures and stresses that are holding them down.
Through communication you can resolve problems. Important discussions can revolve around:
- Needing more support at the client’s home
- Talking about difficult clientele (figure out ways around it)
- Keep your team talking to one another about mutual experiences (no one understands their hardships better)
- Prepare game plans for emergency situations
- Updates/staying on the same page
Set up mandatory weekly meetings between you (or a different supervisor) and the employee, to give each caregiver the one on one time they deserve. Each caregiver has a unique set of needs and wants in association to their unique client so you can even go as far as to take engaging surveys that will help know what to improve on. Implementing a chat system allows employees to ask for back-up on the spot (or when working remotely for COVID reasons). It helps with anything from logistical complications to work emergencies. Either way it keeps everyone talking and feeling like they are being heard.
Organize Tasks and Delegate
The moment your workers have shared their pains, a load will shed off. But they will be most grateful when they see you’ve put their worries into action. To be proactive about everything they communicate to supervisors, start implementing task charts and delegating responsibilities.
When you’ve had your sit downs you’ll have a rough idea of their strengths and weaknesses. Knowing those will help you better judge where they are lacking and what you need to supply them with; how to better plan for your employees.
It’s impossible to be a mail carrier, driver, maid, nurse, chef, all at once, and this is what causes caregiver burnout. Task assigning keeps everything in order, digestible, and realistic. Through delegation and a simple task builder, everything can get done in a timely and human manner.
Caregivers watch their clients at the peak of their pain. Watching people you care for, suffer, makes a caregiver guilty at even the thought of putting in effort to bettering their own lifestyle, livelihood, and health. Their guilt is self-inflicted and not rational considering it only makes them less useful to the client in need.
Making breaks a policy, forces caregivers to put time towards themselves, but also sets new habits and “food for thought” to make self-care something to be prioritized. These breaks can be calculated with timesheets if you are worried they will be taken for granted. However, the main point is that being the boss, you have a lot of power, and you can take advantage of that for the good.
Having balance in life is something all professionals need, but because caregivers work around the clock and because they take the emotional work home, it would be best practice to set aside time for them. This is a time for employees to reflect and come back a lot stronger instead of growing out their caregiver burnout.
Sometimes an hour or a few hours is just not enough to cut it. If you notice breaks aren’t enough and a certain employee is growing worse off as time goes by, consider giving them a whole mental health day. Have your employee seek professional therapy or support groups to unload whatever is making work feel toxic. This is a day that can be focused solely on their mental rehabilitation and you can even make it a requirement in association to time attendance.
To keep your caregivers safe and within guidelines, there is nothing more preventative to caregiver burnout than providing training.
Effective training can range between something general to protect your own home care agency and it can be used as teaching moments for caregivers who need more specific information on the issues and illnesses of their clientele.
To be more specific, trainings could include:
- Training beginners with onboarding lessons
- Learning how to maintain borders between professional and personal lives
- Teach how to keep calm in stressful situations
- Gain more knowledge on specific medical topics
The more your caregivers are aware of their role and the maximum they can do, the more prepared they are and the safer you are from any lawsuits.
Checklists can be a tool to help your caregivers keep everything they need to accomplish in one place without needing to worry that they’ve forgotten something. There is enough to worry about and sometimes when a caregiver has more than one client, they can mix up everything needed to be done for each individual client between them all. That’s unnecessary stress that will harm both parties, so an easy fix, this will free up space in the caregiver’s mind for the more important details.
The life of a caregiver is unpredictable and things can pile up quickly. To match that pace, checklists are easy to have on hand (can even be made on a mobile phone), and can be amended to suit the ups and downs of a caregiver’s life. This is a flexible work schedule solution that leaves nothing undone and caregiver burnout out of the picture.
Schedule for Realistic Goal Setting
Order makes for more sanity. Knowing what the day holds, erases any anxiety that comes from the unknown. Breaking everything down and seeing what needs to take priority versus the things that can wait, will keep everyone aligned and prepared for the worst.
Caregiving uncertainties can stem from altering moods of the clientele and their unpredictable levels of energy; this makes everyday a new challenge. That’s out of the caregiver’s hands, but what they can control is a work schedule to reach goals that will make your clients more independent.
To reach goals, they must be realistic and planned with milestones. By hour, by day, by week, and even by month, although nothing is ever set in stone, by attempting to make every second count, you can give your workers a chance for more success without letting caregiver burnout take over.
Celebrate the Small Wins Along the Way
When the days get as hard as they do, the energy you give off to your employees will either be their make it or break it (caregiver burnout) moment. When there is constant sadness in the homes they go to give care to, the feedback caregivers receive outside must remain positive. Whether it’s uplifting quotes, motivational stories, or funny jokes, you can work on employee morale by spreading cheer through a little shoutout or group meeting.
Sometimes caregivers won’t have a happy ending, but until an ending, the small wins count. This is especially true, if you inspire them to see the glass half full. As the famous saying goes, “life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” This is something that can erase the darkness, and bring in the sunshine. When realistic goals are hit and set, these small victories are what can keep everyone going instead of feeling like they’ve let their client and you (management) down.
Make Everything Come Together with Technology
COVID showed the world that technology can be immersed in our professional lives just as much as it has always been in our personal lives. Whether it’s practicing more frequent communication, following step by step instructions to complete tasks, brushing up on both new and old material, scheduling, writing down checklists, or even spreading joy, it can all be done through our everyday digital devices.
Applications on the mobile phone would be something easily accessible and easy to integrate into work for both you and your team of caregivers. You can even find applications, such as Connecteam, where all of these benefits are found under one software solution. With an all-in-one solution, all caregiver burnout solutions will intertwine to keep the needs of your caregivers as top priority to serve your clientele with quality care.
The Bottom Line
Caregiver burnout is not something to play with. If you’re reading this and thinking it sounds a lot like your home car business professionals, then you have to take action now. All of these suggestions are fast and easy fixes, but are in no way cheap fixes. It’s important to care for those who always spend their own energy caring for others. Your caregivers are spent, and you have to pump them up with good health whether it’s mentally, emotionally, or physically; it all serves a purpose. To make all of these solutions for caregiver burnout come to life, integrating an all-in-one caregiver management software solution, such as Connecteam, would really take the heavy load off of going on a hunt to find one application for each preventative tip.
- A built in-chat system to keep you and your employees in contact at all times
- Communication is designated for professional use only
- Getting in touch with your employee is on the same window as the other features
- Has a time clock to keep track of all the breaks they need to reset
- A GPS tracker to know how they are spending their time and where
- A scheduling system that is flexible and keeps all players notified of changes
- Organized task list of real-time task completion
- Reminders, notifications, and additional information attachments for checklist items
- A news feed home page to spread the cheer and make positive announcements
- A rewards system to let your employees know you see their victories
With the world completely flipped upside down due to Corona, it would only make sense to pick something mobile, on-the-go, and applicable to remote work. Make a contingency plan for all that is to come or can come your way. For the employees that are already experiencing caregiver burnout, be attentive to their feelings, take action on all of these suggestions so that it doesn’t become an issue for others, and be a positive light in their line of work by implementing every option you see fit.
Inspire your caregivers! Keep them happy at work with the use of Connecteam, for FREE!
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