How management can aid health workers overcome Compassion Fatigue. part 2

This is a continuation of How management can aid health workers to overcome compassion fatigue. part 1

6. Employee assistance programs; Availability of counselling & clinical services

Compassion fatigue and burnout are becoming more prevalent in today‘s society. Due to the nature of nursing, it is often difficult for nurses not to become attached to their patients, which puts them at risk of developing compassion fatigue-H Braunschneider, 2013

Nurses sometimes experience CF and burnout among other psychological occupational hazards unknowingly. They exhibit the symptoms to chronic stages without seeking as they are unaware and the negative outcomes stay with the nurse.

Availing counselling and clinical care for these employees go beyond achieving organizational goals. It stands as a moral responsibility of the organization.

7. Managerial strategic interventional plans to rescue those target groups.

A study conducted in the 2nd largest referral hospital in East Africa explains a direct correlation of working in traumatizing areas to increased risk of compassion fatigue. This is in comparison to working in less traumatizing work environments. Nurses were shown to have a raised mean of compassion fatigue compared to doctors despite both parties being the first to encounter traumatized patients.  (Kariuki et al., 2017, Jarrad et al., 2018 CF in Nursing is at times accompanied by a serious substance abuse behaviour (Jarrad et al.,2018).

CF prevalence persuaded by cumulative loss & exposure to terminally ill patients resonates with the high-risk vulnerable groups. These units include ¨Accident and Emergency unit, ICU/HDU/, CCU, Burns unit, those dealing with Sexual and Gender-Based Violence survivors, male nurses, married nurses, those working in overloaded work environments like large training hospitals and psychiatric units (Kariuki et al, 2017. Johnson, 2015).

Managerial strategic interventional actions focused on these target groups before negative effects are experienced. Screening for CF and substance abuse rehabilitation to follow up is one practical solution-focused method.img_1219

8. Improving recognition and awareness of compassion satisfaction;

Formal education on compassion fatigue for students goes a long way toward preparing them for probable challenges in the clinical setting.

Enable nurses to identify compassion satisfaction in every circumstance that they are involved in despite the outcomes. At times it takes self-initiative by individuals, however, keeping a positive attitude throughout the unit is one way of maintaining a positive and progressive work environment.

9. Encourage & enforce debriefing as often as possible.

Despite good clinical outcomes such as a successful resuscitation, the process could be traumatizing to some caregivers. In some settings, treatment team meetings
can be quite successful. These teams meet regularly for the purpose of sharing experiences with troubling clients, providing social support to providers, and giving practitioners the opportunity to disclose successful encounters with colleagues  (Slatten, 2011)

Such meetings validate individual efforts whing creating formal, management-endorsed, venue for practitioners to share their success stories. As well, it helps pass on helpful techniques to their coworkers that can assist everyone in his or her interaction with future clients (Slatten, 2011).

10.  Adequate staffing and resources at work

Work settings that are well equipped with adequate staff relieve the stress of overworking among other risk factors for CF. Organizational goals are met in good time and employee retention is increased.



How management can aid health workers to overcome compassion fatigue. part 1

Fulfilment in healthcare is often times driven by caring for the ill and positive outcomes after illness, particularly for those traumatised. This motivation is carried on by values such as compassion and empathy. However, injuries cumulate for the health care provider from physical and psychological engagements. Compassion fatigue (CF) as described here is one such occupational hazard for which nurses have a high-risk mean. This is according to a research by Kariuki et. al done in Kenya.

Compassionate care is a basic tenet in the provision of healthcare, assisting patients in need brings compassion satisfaction (Slatten, 2011) which is the basic goal of resolving CF.

Creation and implementation of administrative interventions against compassion fatigue are aimed at reducing the Detriments of Compassion Fatigues on patients, human resource & the organization. These will go a long way in ensuring individuals work effectively and organizational goals are met. Moreover, it cutbacks on challenges such as; high turnover decreased productivity highlighted here.

Employers take a large responsibility in ensuring employees feel supported and set up support systems whenever traumatic experiences occur in the workplace. These include;

1. Patient reassignments & Change Overs; Regular rotation of staff and time off duty

Implementing change overs protects healthcare providers from continuously working in traumatizing environments. This reduces the risk of  CF. In cases where changeovers are not possible, setting up a balanced work shift that grants adequate rest time (Kariuki et al., 2017) including biological breaks.

Patient reassignments, limiting or diversifying the caseload mix is so that the percentage of trauma patients is reduced for each individual nurse. This eases the pressure on individuals and makes work less burdensome. Characteristics of a balanced patient load during assignments include interposing less emotionally distressed cases with demanding cases (Slatten, 2011).

Public and nonprofit health contexts exhibit such concerns as often, they receive high caseloads. This, working in this environment may increase susceptibility to CF than other colleagues.  Sprang et al.  suggest implementing optimal caseload mix, particularly in these healthcare settings in equal manageable parts (Slatten, 2011).

2. Formal mentoring programs;

A formal measurable program assists in the creation of supportive professional relationships between experienced nurses and those at entry level. Experienced nurses have gradually established functional adaptation mechanisms such as dealing with stress which other nurses can learn from. It is not surprising therefore that CF is less prevalent with increasing age and experience (Inzer & Crawford, 2005).

Mentorship upholds employee/employer relations which is an exceptional retention device. The employees feel more valued and have a stronger association with the organization thereby leading to increased employee retention.

Implement a strong formal student preceptor relationships.

Mentors can be both in-house or from external organizations or individual volunteers.

3. Employee training on holistic self-care and CF recognition

Employees who recognize symptoms of CF within themselves and others are better placed to seek help for themselves and assist others. They learn coping mechanisms from stress reduction programs and are able to cope effectively when dealing with patients in crises. Primary care workers are trained in the creation of work-life balance by skillfully separating the two spheres through mindfulness & relaxation techniques.

Slatten suggests employees participate in workshops and aimed at developing ‘‘caring distancing.’’Developing a professional distance is appropriate to reduce CF vulnerability, in other terms, some level of emotional disengagement in crises (Slatten, 2011).

Specialized trauma training raises self-efficacy which provides protection from compassion fatigue. However, in the attainment of effectiveness, it is important to maintain compassion and empathy which are basic principles that motivate patient care.

4. compassionate organizational culture;

In compassionate organizations, public acts of compassion go a long way in mentoring employees on how to deal with trauma. This contagious act reinforces others in the organization to act empathetically (Slatten, 2011).

Compassionate organizational culture means compassion is forecasted, acknowledged, appreciated and applauded (Slatten, 2011).

This strongly depends on the professional environment that is often directed by managers when giving an audience to colleagues cases supportively. This way employees can express their pain, a meaning is assigned to suffering and assistance is provided.

Rather than stifling distress, nurses can get assistance and focus better on their jobs. or suppressing distress, employees can deal with it so they can begin refocusing on their job. (Slatten, 2011).

¨Teamwork culture allows employees to reach out to each other whenever they go through distress and constructively support each other. Organizations can promote a culture where clinicians feel they can depend on their colleagues in their times of need and develop managers for these workers who practice a leadership style that promotes the joint vision, creativity, and problem-solving¨Slatten, 2011

Organizational commitment & job satisfaction is further solidified by the compassionate nature of supervisors and managers towards grieving employees (Slatten, 2011).

Rural providers are highly likely to experience CF than urban providers due to geographical reasons and seclusion. Telehealth network can contribute to support systems. (Slatten, 2011).

5. Organizational support of employee skills development; Continuing education and skills acquisition.

Through specialization and continuous professional development, we gain autonomy which is important for emotional well being. Psychological endurance, problem-solving skills & confidence in the caring process is enhanced through CPDs.

The second part of this episode will run on Tuesday 25th September 2018.