Compassionate Caregiving: Practical Help and Spiritual Encouragement


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However, it is important to note that generally more than one symptom is demonstrated before a nurse is identified as having compassion fatigue. An essential first step in developing an intervention plan is awareness of the problem.

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In addition to assessing for factors presented in the Table , a basic assessment would include collecting the following information regarding the involved nurse:. However, the cost of providing this empathic nursing care can contribute to caregiver compassion fatigue. Often a nurse with compassion fatigue needs help and guidance from a mentor, consultant, supervisor, or professional counselor to assist with a personalized assessment and intervention processes. Once the assessment is complete a personal intervention plan can be developed as described below.

The first intervention step is to review the resources that are available in the workplace. Often an EAP will present formal classes on relevant, life-learning topics, such as managing time, balancing a budget, caring for an elderly parent, communicating effectively, and reducing stress. These classes are designed to decrease stress, enhance work-life balance, and provide help for employees experiencing conditions such as compassion fatigue. Some examples of helpful strategies might include: changing the work assignment or shift; recommending time off or reducing overtime hours; encouraging attendance at a conference; or becoming involved in a project of interest.

These actions have the potential to enhance the work environment and promote work-life balance. Pastoral Care Departments also offer a variety of activities to support nurses. The goal of pastoral care is to meet the spiritual needs of patients, families, and staff. Examples of supportive activities include facilitating reminiscence during times of loss or death; leading memorial services; offering prayer and comfort for patients, families, and hospital staff; and providing spiritual help through individual counseling and group programs.

Healthy rituals are those activities that one participates in on a regular basis and that replenish personal energy levels and enhance feelings of well being. As nurses begin meeting the needs of others, they often neglect their own needs. It is important for the nurse to identify replenishing strategies that can promote physical, emotional, and spiritual well being.

The nurse may need to be encouraged to try a new approach to self-care, such as a yoga class, massage, meditation, or tai-chi. Our hospital system has promoted self-care for nurses through a Relaxation Center where nurses can go for brief periods of respite.


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At this Center nurses can receive reiki, light massage, or just relax in a quiet and comfortable setting. Our staff have enthusiastically expressed positive feedback regarding the Relaxation Center. Many nurses have acknowledged feeling less stressed and more able to manage at work after using the Center. They often bring ideas for relaxation back from the Center to their work group. Another idea is to create a comfortable, relaxing environment in a designated place on the nursing unit.

This can be done by transforming an available room into a relaxation area. As Psychiatric Mental Health CNSs we facilitate regular staff conferences to discuss complex patient situations that nurses find challenging. The day and time for these conferences are selected jointly by nurse managers and staff nurses.

Both professional and ancillary staff members are invited to participate. These forums are helpful in allowing staff an opportunity to express their concerns and feelings in a safe environment and then collaboratively work to address their concerns. Two years ago our hospital system initiated a Nurse Residency Program. This one-year program for new graduate nurses is built on an evidence-based curriculum that meets national residency accreditation standards.

The Program offers a twelve-month schedule focusing on orientation topics and issues confronting new nurses. These meetings provide an opportunity for new graduates to develop their critical thinking skills and share their thoughts and feelings. This Nurse Residency Program has helped us to mentor and precept new nurses and to assist them with a successful transition into their staff nurse role. This Program has helped the nurses to develop effective decision-making skills related to clinical judgment and performance and to gain clinical autonomy, thus enhancing their job satisfaction and increasing their retention.

It also offers an opportunity for nurses to begin formulating individual plans for developing their future careers. New-nurse support groups can also help to decrease stress and prevent compassion fatigue.

Prior to the initiation of the Nurse Residency Program the authors facilitated monthly new-nurse support groups. The sessions focused on identifying areas of concern for new graduates and assisting them with recognizing available resources within the hospital system. The problem solving process was emphasized during these group discussions. In general the evaluations were very positive. Most participants responded that they felt better overall and less stressed after leaving the group. Often requests were made for additional sessions.

Nurse 2 was a nurse who exhibited anxiety and job dissatisfaction on a regular basis. She was often overwhelmed with her complex, patient-care assignments and expressed much sadness about her patients' social and emotional problems. She was frequently tearful and verbally acknowledged not wanting to come to work. In addition she was sensitive to feedback and felt a lack of support from some of her peers and supervisors. She had difficulty sleeping, worried about work on her days off, and talked openly about wanting to leave the hospital.

Nurse 2 talked often with several clinical nurse specialists who helped her focus on achieving a healthy work-life balance. They counseled her on positive self-care strategies and effective communication techniques and guided her in considering long-term career plans. Although attempts were made to help improve the situation on her unit, she continued to experience anxiety and dissatisfaction. Despite her growing unhappiness, she identified a specific area of nursing in which she had always wanted to work.

Arrangements were made for her to talk with the supervisor and schedule a shadowing experience in this area. She decided to transfer to this new area and has since made a positive adjustment. Being proactive in meeting her own needs and addressing work-related needs has resulted in Nurse 2 feeling more energized about her work assignment and more eager to come to work. Compassion fatigue needs to be studied in its entirety.

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We need to identify what specific characteristics and experiences precipitate this phenomenon among individuals employed in caring work and to investigate what personal qualities and traits might provide protection. Longitudinal studies are needed to investigate factors that contribute to the development of symptoms. Studies are needed to identify the effectiveness of interventions, such as those described in this article, for combating compassion fatigue in a variety of work settings.

For multiple copies, please call Customer Care toll-free at , Monday-Friday, a. Booklets will no longer be shipped to countries outside the United States and Canada. Skip to main content. Request Your Copy. Not everyone is ready to hear a message on their timeline; in fact, it might make the denier more miserable right now to acknowledge the situation.

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But how and when you say something is often as important as what you say. But you can make sure they know you understand how hard it is to give up control.

Spiritual Support for Caregivers | Unity

Sometimes just talking helps. By expressing their feelings, caregivees might be more appreciative. You can also express yourself. At best, this takes time. Dementia and loss of memory are terrifying. I see firsthand how fears of these two scare my year-old mom, who watched her mother and sister suffer from sad, debilitating cognitive decline. Start with the steps below. You have to take care of yourself to effectively help anyone else. Caregivers are at great risk for depression and are more likely to lapse into poor health habits such as an unhealthy diet or lack of exercise.

In fact, if managed well, the experience of caring for an older family member has the potential to bring relatives closer as you help this person through this final stage of life. This tendency can grow even more pronou nced under the strain of caregiving. You may be convinced that your family member is no longer capable of driving, while your brothers argue that he needs to maintain his independence.

Financial concerns can influence decisions about where the person should live, whether or not a particular medical intervention is needed and whether he can afford a housekeeper. These conflicts are often fueled by ongoing resentment over income disparities and perceived inequities in the distribution of the family estate. The primary caregiver might assume this role because he lives near the family member, is perceived to have the fewest obligations or has the closest relationship with the person.

Whatever the reasons, the situation is likely to make him resentful. As soon as the person begins to have health problems, initiate regular family meetings with your siblings and other family members who will be involved in her care.


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The goal is to share information and make decisions as a group; the meetings can also be a source of support and provide a forum for resolving disagreements. If all or some of you live in different parts of the country, the meetings can be held by conference call. There are now many free conference call services available, such as Skype , FreeConferenceCall.

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If possible, reserve a little time at the end of the meeting or conference call to chat and catch up. A fair division of labor can mitigate resentment and make caregiving more efficient. The family meeting is an excellent venue for setting up a caregiving schedule and dividing up tasks. Most families have taboo subjects that everyone avoids.

Sometimes the topic is a sensitive one, like a drinking problem or a family tragedy, but often family members avoid speaking up because they are afraid of hurting feelings — or simply because openness has never been part of the family culture. In a calm, quiet moment — perhaps at the next family meeting — explain how you feel in a matter-of-fact, nonconfrontational way. Try to be concrete and specific when you ask for help.

Compassionate Caregiving: Practical Help and Spiritual Encouragement Compassionate Caregiving: Practical Help and Spiritual Encouragement
Compassionate Caregiving: Practical Help and Spiritual Encouragement Compassionate Caregiving: Practical Help and Spiritual Encouragement
Compassionate Caregiving: Practical Help and Spiritual Encouragement Compassionate Caregiving: Practical Help and Spiritual Encouragement
Compassionate Caregiving: Practical Help and Spiritual Encouragement Compassionate Caregiving: Practical Help and Spiritual Encouragement
Compassionate Caregiving: Practical Help and Spiritual Encouragement Compassionate Caregiving: Practical Help and Spiritual Encouragement
Compassionate Caregiving: Practical Help and Spiritual Encouragement Compassionate Caregiving: Practical Help and Spiritual Encouragement

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