Welfare in healthcare services

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The battle for welfare in healthcare

In the world of caregiving, where the wellbeing of others is important, it is common for care workers to lose sight of their own health. This can cause care workers to experience post-traumatic stress, substance abuse, burnout, bore-out, depression, anxiety and even suicide. These conditions affect not only the professional but also the caregiver’s private life.

Post-traumatic stress: Healthcare workers face emotionally stressful situations on a daily basis, ranging from traumatic accidents to the loss of patients. This constant exposure to negative events can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), causing them to struggle with re-experiences, avoidance behaviour and excessive irritability.

Substance abuse: As a way of coping with the emotional toll of their work, some caregivers resort to substance abuse. Alcohol, drugs or even medication may serve as short-term solutions to relieve stress, but they eventually lead to addiction and further health complications.

Burnout and Depression : Constant pressure, long working hours and lack of recognition can exhaust caregivers, leaving them vulnerable to burnout and depression They feel both physically and mentally exhausted, experience feelings of helplessness and emptiness, and find it increasingly difficult to perform their tasks. This negatively affects their ability to provide effective care.

Anxiety perceptions and feelings of insecurity: Anxiety and the feeling that the workplace is not safe hinders care workers in their delivery of care. They often experience a constant fear of making mistakes or harming patients. This can lead to decreased concentration, increased stress levels and a loss of confidence in their own abilities.

Healthcare workers’ negative work experiences have a major impact on their wellbeing, health and the care they provide. Stress at work causes staff shortages and increases the risk of errors. It can also lead to problems in personal relationships. It is important that health organisations recognise these problems and take action to support caregivers.

How can we improve wellbeing in the care sector?

1. Less Workload: Reducing high workload is important to reduce the number of caregivers quitting or dropping out due to burnout. By reducing the number of patients per carer and having realistic workloads, carers can manage their tasks more effectively and reduce stress.

2. Better Work Schedules: Offering hours and work schedules that are less demanding helps caregivers find a better work-life balance. Flexible working hours and adequate rest periods are essential to prevent depression and burnout.

3. Participation and involvement: Involving caregivers in the implementation of changes on the shop floor and the creation of timetables increases the sense of control and cooperation between caregivers and their managers.

4. More Recognition: Caregivers deserve recognition for their dedication and hard work. By showing appreciation and rewarding achievements, you increase caregivers’ self-confidence and motivation.

5. Care provision for Care Workers: It is very important for care workers to have access to physical and psychological support. Mental support, stress management programmes and access to healthcare help care workers heal from mental and/or physical disorders.

6. Leadership engagement: Open communication, feedback and attentiveness are keywords for positive leadership within the healthcare sector.

7. Scientific Research: More research on wellbeing within the care sector is needed to better understand the causes and consequences of work-related stress. This research could lead to new interventions and policies to support caregivers.

With a culture of support and the right resources, we can create an environment in which care workers can develop and provide quality care.

Care worker suicide

The care worker profession is under immense pressure and faces heavy emotional strain, long working hours and sometimes a lack of adequate support. Together with the prevailing stigma surrounding professional help, these factors contribute to an increased risk of mental health problems and also suicide.
Suicide is often preceded by long suffering. Suicidal individuals also give conscious and unconscious signs that their mental health is not doing well. Therefore, be sure to keep a close eye on your colleague, employee, friend, family member. Does he/she indicate a need for professional help? Is he/she behaving differently (less zest for life, less energy, less cheerful) than normal? Does he/she exhibit any of the following distress signals?
  • Changes in Behavior: Withdrawal, irritability, or sudden loss of interest in work and activities.
  • Expressions of Hopelessness: Statements indicating despair or lack of future perspective.
  • Change in Work Performance: Decreased productivity or increase in errors.
Do you know someone who needs help or are in need of a conversation yourself? Contact one of the (toll-free) numbers below:
Help take care of those who care!

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