Caregivers Need Care Too: Combating Caregiver Burnout Amid a Pandemic

Beyond the prevalent issues that contribute to burnout working in the home healthcare industry, the continuation of the Covid-19 pandemic has posed another stressor on home caregivers. Low pay, unfavorable work hours, lack of training, along with an ongoing health pandemic, has caregiver burnout at an all time high. However, healthcare agencies can assist in alleviating caregiver burnout with a few small but impactful gestures.

Burnout Explained

Caregiver burnout is identified as a lack of resilience in regards to caregiving work functions that manifests in emotional exhaustion, diminution of motivation, and feelings of frustration that lead to reduction in work efficacy. Caregiver burnout impacts the quality of care administered to patients, protocol documentation, and could ultimately result in the caregiver resigning or being terminated. The long standing issues in the home health industry are already huge contributors to care staff developing a sense of burnout. Those demotivators, unfortunately, have been exacerbated with the addition of the Covid-19 pandemic. Caregiver burnout is almost inevitable under these circumstances.

Small Gestures Can Go a Long Way

What can home health agencies do to help care staff avoid or reduce burnout during this pandemic? Below are a few suggestions:

Provide Encouragement: Make it a weekly habit to simply check on your caregiving staff to make sure they are physically and mentally okay. Send out communications that let them know that their service during this time is appreciated. Yes, caregiving is the job they are paid to do, but words of encouragement in such a trying time can go a long way. There are studies that show that caregivers who feel appreciated experience greater physical and emotional health. The better your carestaff is emotionally, mentally , and physically, the more burnout is diminished.

Provide Employee Assistance Programs: Where possible, provide care staff with free resources to manage their stress. You can establish a work environment that supports the mental wellness of it’s care staff by providing employees with access to organized support groups and other means of social support. An Employee Assistance Program is designed as a confidential support service that employees may utilize when facing problems with stress, issues with physical, emotional and mental health, family, finances, and any other personal issues that negatively impacts work performance. If your organization offers an Employee Assistance Program, be sure to promote that program to care staff and let them know the mental help and counseling assistance available to them. An EAP is not healthcare insurance, but can be a great addition to employee benefits.

Provide Personal Protective Equipment: While providing home care to various patients during the pandemic, caregivers have to worry about the safety of their patients and their own health as well. Where possible within budget, be sure to provide your caregivers with personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, sanitizer and other PPE essentials. Infact, it is imperative that the agency provides all staff with appropriate PPE- by OSHA standards.

Provide Respite Care: For caregivers that work over 30 hours a week caring for a client, respite time off should be scheduled for that caregiver. This respite time will allow the caregiver a moment to rest and rejuvenate themselves while another caregiver takes over their shift. With respite care in place, the caregiver can come back to work more energized and it will improve the quality of care given to the client.

Provide Training: The Covid-19 pandemic has brought along with it a number of protocols that home health caregivers must abide by. It could be a bit overwhelming for care staff to have to learn a plethora of new procedures, and ensure the safety of patients, all while managing their own personal stresses of working during a pandemic. As a home care agency, you can make training easier for care staff with Quire. Use Quire to automate your initial, annual, and client-specific training. While initial training is automatically assigned to caregivers according to your state’s compliance needs, you can also add and remove specialized courses to fit your needs.

Your Support is Essential

As a home healthcare agency, your support to your care staff during this pandemic could radically improve their work performance by reducing the effects of caregiver burnout. It is the needs of patients and care staff to meet those needs that keep home care agencies in operation. Therefore, the well-being of your carestaff is important. Reinforce your staff’s trust in you as their employer by showing that you care and are there for them during these uncertain times.