A fundamental characteristic that is found with care-givers such as nurses is Compassion which is a representation of an extreme sentiment and acknowledgment of someone’s sufferings that is followed by a deep aspiration to help in easing or ending the tribulation. Compassion fatigue is a unique form of burnout affecting people associated with care giving jobs; it’s the mixture of physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion that is connected with ones extended caring to patients in considerable physical and emotional pains for a long time without replenishing ones physical, emotional, and spiritual requirements (Craig & Sprang, 2010,p.319). For instance, in a twelve hour shift, a caregiver such as a nurse can play a number of roles like administering medications, taking measures to save lives, or taking care of dying patient as they transit to the next world. Within that stipulated timeframe, a heap of emotions can fill ones heart leaving one drained and exhausted. This explains why nurses are at risk to compassion fatigue.
Concepts of Compassion Fatigue and their signs
Physical exhaustion: The design of the human body was perfect and has to be sustained regularly and be provided with stuffs that keeps it healthy. These include exercises, diet and physical rest. If the body is denied these things, in due course it becomes extremely exhausted for proper functioning. The signs for this are being irritated, feeling sleepy arising from fatigue, and insomnia. If the symptoms are not treated, they can lead to dizziness, headaches, digestive complications, and weakened functioning of other body parts(Craig & Sprang, 2010,p.323).
Emotional Exhaustion: it arises as a result of depleting emotional resources and failing to replenish them to ones emotional equilibrium. For instance, the demands of life, career, and family today have been extreme and devastating. The combination of these demands and other stressing issues like caring about other people, demand for increasing production, and high expectation of oneself defines modern caregivers. They continuously engage with patients emotionally which call for steady support. One’s emotions are exhausted when all these becomes too heavy and unbearable (Craig & Sprang, 2010,p.320).. The signs of emotional exhaustion include: hostility towards other people, one withdraws from company of others, isolation, and difficulty working as team.
Apathy: it’s lacking concentration, concern or emotion. It leads to inner turmoil that is accompanied by a feel of not being adequate and drive to accomplishing. The victim perceives and sees their careers as a burden and do not enjoys anymore doing the work. Once a caregiver has these feelings, he becomes less productive and concentration lowers decreasing the quality of work. If the sign persists, they lead to absenteeism, complaints from others and may eventually lead to job being terminated.
Depression: it’s common to nurses and caregivers. It’s an extremely feeling of grief and desperation, feeling of net being adequate, low self –esteem, and lack of joy. To the caregivers, to some extent, its brought by the high and increasing demand for their job and family leading to incapability to cope with the self expectations. Signs of depression can manifest themselves both physically and physiologically and includes: being negative, denying that one has a problem, low self-esteem, and lacking confidence (Zerach, 2013). If it’s not treated, it leads to the feeling of unworthy, and being empty which can make the victims to have and act upon suicidal ideas.
Compulsive Behaviors: these are acts and decisions that are made by caregivers without giving a second thought of their consequences. These are actions with an intention to finding a way of trying to cope and get off ones mindset with the factors that make caregivers to have stress. These behaviors may include: overeating or under-eating, becoming a workaholic, excessive drinking, excessive smoking than usual, and using other stimulating drugs such as caffeine and narcotics.
Other similar issue to compassion fatigue
Burnout: It’s a restrained progression where by a person is steadily ensnared in a status of rational fatigue and is absolutely weary and exhausted of the entire energy. According to Maslach, emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment is a burnout syndrome which can crop up among folks who engage with the public day in day out. It’s caused by Lack of control to, Dysfunctional workplace dynamics, Lack of social support, and Extremes of activity (Slocum et al 2013, p.175).
Vicarious Trauma: it’s a conversion in the personality of a shock caregiver or co-worker resulting from empathic interaction with distressed people and with information of shocking incidents. Its trademark is interrupted spirituality, or in a distraction in the trauma personnel’s supposed meaning and anticipation. It’s caused by the interactions of caregiver between individuals undergoing trauma and their situations.
Secondary traumatic: It integrates the perception of compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma founded by empathic engagement, but the successive sentiments and behaviors can lead to an acute traumatic disorder or warning signs analogous to post traumatic tension confusion (Figley, 1995).
Loss of self: Can make an individual to dock an unconstructive and despondent mind-set about themselves and life in general. Excessive Criticism, Comparison with Others, Expectations, and Peer Pressure and Bullying.
Direct trauma: it is a disorder caused by anxiety. Anxiety is essentially troublesome thoughts plus unwarranted emotional and physical stimulation. In anxiety, the mind stays vigilant, always on alert. This, in turn, keeps emotions and the body aroused. Chronic or severe arousal changes the nervous system which makes the nervous system become sensitized from overstimulation (Zerach, 2013).
Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual needs of the caregiver
A care giver requires guidance that can be given by a counselor. The mentor needs to carry out an evaluation and originate a custom-made plan for every individual involved in order to attend to the setback of compassion fatigue. The mentor should drive the nurse to talk freely about compassion fatigue. The mentor has a responsibility to educate the caregivers on how to deal and handle compassion fatigue at the place of work and at any instance. Also, there is the need to introduce Employees Assistance curriculums whose basic role is to offer workers with helpful guidance for both individual and employment associated issues. Generally, talking to an appropriate mentor about ones concerns can bring hope and support on how to deal with compassion fatigue.
The idea is creating calm, comfortable, and a place to relax in a designated location within the nursing units. The nurses can be consulted on the kind of color they would wish the walls to have and the kind of relaxing music they would wish to listen to. Others include changing assignments and revolving shifts to the care givers. The pastoral department is supposed to offer support to the caregivers by visiting them on a daily and providing spiritual care and encouragements to those in need of it.
Coping strategies and resources you can use to help you
Self-Awareness: this is a combination of one’s knowledge and awareness. The caregiver can be able to monitor the requirements of a patient as well as one’s need. It’s a psychological process that expands one s range of choices and gives a chance for extended creative feedback. And before undertaking compassion mission, ask yourself whether you encompass the physical, emotional and divined power to successfully end the mission.
Self-Examination: examine the motive of undertaking the compassionate task. Ask yourself whether you are being pushed, whether you have the necessary expertise, whether you are undertaking it in order to run away from responsibilities or what?
Self-supervision: caregivers who are recuperating from the signs of compassion fatigue are required to reduce their vital and individual talks and move their ways towards self acceptance. Skills that reminds the caregiver on their excellent traits, their success, and valuing themselves opens the door to self management ways.
Recharging yourself: caregivers should come up with a list of things that they enjoy doing like visiting their friend, have massage and include them in a schedule of doing things and give them weight just like the others.
Day in day out, caregiver struggles to cope in the surroundings that present continuous emotional and heart jerking circumstances. Combining these by way of rising workloads, time and energy, the stress level is likely to rise to almost uncontrollable heights resulting to compassion fatigue and related issues. Awareness of these entire phenomenon’s is essential to recognize signs and prevent them from occurring. Therefore, today’s caregivers requires the understanding along with paraphernalia to build up a way of life and work ethics which calls re-establishment and transformation from the physical, emotional, and spiritual tensions that is unavoidable. Thus prevention is to a great extent healthier way and fundamental for a healthy balanced work and general lifestyle.