Caring for carers is essential for providers who manage busy aged care organisations. Carers pour their hearts into their careers every day, approaching their jobs with passion and dedication. Sometimes the everyday task of caring for others can lead to exhaustion, burnout, and depression. Aged care organisations must take action to ensure that they look after their carers to make sure that they do not succumb to these pitfalls. Below are six steps to take to ensure that carers remain physically and mentally healthy.
Caring for Carers: 6 Strategies to Keep Carers Healthy and Happy
1) Encourage employees to stay healthy
Tending to the needs of others becomes a challenge for carers who are not in good physical health. Providers should emphasise the importance of annual physical evaluations for carers and stress the role of good sleeping and eating habits.
2) Help carers achieve the proper work-life balance
Providers should make sure that carers are not overworked or overburdened in their jobs. Employees should receive ample vacation time and receive encouragement to pursue time with their families, as well as spiritual and volunteering endeavours.
3) Make sure that carers receive sufficient breaks from their jobs
Working a full day without a break from care giving responsibilities can push the limits of a carer’s physical and mental fortitude. A simple solution is for providers to suggest a recommended break schedule for carers. For instance, providers may recommend taking one thirty to sixty-minute break and two breaks of at least fifteen minutes. These recommendations should be provided during the training process and re-emphasised during staff meetings.
4) Help carers recognise the signs of caregiver burnout
Sometimes caregivers are so overwhelmed that they do not notice that they are exhibiting the signs of burnout or depression. Employers should outline the following symptoms of carer burnout during the employee’s initial training process and periodically throughout the employee’s tenure:
- Feelings of sadness
- A change in sleeping patterns
- Irritable behaviour
- Emotional or physical exhaustion
- Thoughts of harming yourself or the person in your care
- Appetite changes
5) Encourage carers to remain engaged with their social support networks
Maintaining close relationships with family and friends is vital to maintaining work-life balance. Moreover, family and friends can serve as a sounding board for carers who need to share their feelings. Providers can foster relationships between employees and their social support networks by hosting events that include family members and friends of carers.
6) Prepare a check list to help caregivers stay healthy
Carers can sometimes become so busy balancing the needs of their aging clients and the needs of their families that they can easily overlook their own personal well-being. Below is a simple check list that providers can give to all of their carers to help keep them healthy, well-rested, and engaged in their careers.
- Do I make time for regular exercise?
- Do I have a trusted confidant with whom I can share my feelings?
- Do I get enough sleep each night?
- Do I eat well-balanced meals each day?
- Do I take enough brakes from caring?
- Do I allow time to relax each day?
What if I am still having trouble coping?
While the proactive measures outlined above will go a long way to help most carers cope with the stresses of their jobs, providers should be prepared to help their employees who continue to display signs of carer burnout, exhaustion, or depression. Below are three suggestions to help carers who are unable to handle the stresses that accompany their jobs:
- Notify a trusted family member or friend.
- Schedule an appointment with your general practitioner.