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14th September 2020

Looking After Yourself Too!

Download our Compassion Fatigue Factsheet here, it includes the most common signs and symptoms of Compassion Fatigue and what you can do to look after your mental health .

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We know that General Practice is always a busy place which has become increasingly demanding during the pandemic.

Compassion fatigue is a term that has been around a long time but has been frequently referred to and cited during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s defined as emotional, physical and spiritual distress in those who provide care to another and is associated with ‘caring roles’ where staff experience significant emotional or physical pain and suffering. (https://www.compassionfatigue.org/)

As providers of healthcare services, the wellbeing of the whole team is paramount and there is a duty to be aware of symptoms of both individual staff fatigue and organisational fatigue. Managers choose staff that have empathy, commitment, dedication, and those that model organisational values. However, it is these individuals, who are most compassionate and empathetic that are placed at the greatest risk of ‘taking on the pain, as if it were their own’. So, as employers, what can be done? Firstly, it’s not ok for you or your teams to assume that ‘this is part of the job’ or to ‘man up’. Organisations need to drive a culture where it recognises that ‘it is ok to not be ok’.

At the recruitment stage, it’s important to prepare new staff for the emotional dangers of their role and to ascertain their ability to manage this. At staff induction, we have a duty to provide training that includes offering of strategies to help all staff cope with emotional strain (which is revisited annually). For established staff, a proactive approach should be taken by organisations to offering techniques for self-care and self-compassion, so that there is enough reserve of emotional energy to deal with difficult and challenging times.

Everyone should be aware of the symptoms of compassion fatigue and know who to go to for support, and what self-help strategies they can work through to help. Research suggests that by incorporating training in self-care practices with staff and techniques for managing difficult and challenging times, results in reduced sickness, increased retention and improved morale within the organisation.

Other suggestions (that have proved to be successful) for managers to consider implementing include:

  • Support groups and open discussions
  • Regular breaks
  • Routine check-ins
  • Mental health days
  • Relaxation rooms, massage, meditation classes, etc.

National support has been made available for anyone working in NHS primary care and feedback from these sessions has been positive.

#LookingAfterYouToo Coaching support for primary care staff can be found here.

 

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

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