Posts Tagged ‘fatigue’

Organizational Compassion Fatigue

hourglass-time-hours-sand-39396.jpeg   An organization suffers from Compassion Fatigue as well as their staff.  In today’s environment socially and the rising mentality of suing for a quick buck, puts everyone from caretakers to CEOs at risk; if Compassion fatigue is permitted to run rife in any establishment.

There are no quick fixes to healing an organization it takes time, patience, commitment at all levels and perseverance. An awareness of the far-reaching effects of Compassion Fatigue must be present at the highest level of management and work its way down to encompass line staff, as well as volunteers, or even better from the grassroots up; very often the coal face workers can give distant Senior Management some sound and solid ideas, that are cost-effective and efficient. The mistrust that employees feel towards management is not unfounded, as many staff do not have permanent contracts, even if they do, there is always the threats of cuts hanging over their heads.  As many caregiving institutions are non-profit, they have additional challenges such as low wages, lack of space, old or incorrect tools and resources, high management turnover rate, as well as a constant flow of unfamiliar staff, plus constantly shifting priorities.

None of which make any workday any easier, so the Compassion Fatigue cycle keeps in motion.

Organizational symptoms of Compassion Fatigue include:

  • Lack of understanding of corporate ethos or manifesto
  • Daily feeling of crisis management at all levels
  • Patient safety being compromised
  • Staff safety making them feel vulnerable or pressurized


  • High absenteeism
  • Constant changes in co-workers relationships
  • Inability for teams to work well together
  • Desire among staff members to break company rules
  • Outbreaks of aggressive behaviors among staff
  • Inability of staff to complete assignments and tasks
  • Inability of staff to respect and meet deadlines
  • Lack of flexibility among staff members
  • Negativism towards management
  • Strong reluctance toward change
  • Inability of staff to believe improvement is possible
  • Lack of a vision for the future

The early any establishment realizes that changes need to be made and implement those guidelines, the safer everyone involved will be, your bottom line will prosper, staff health will improve and patient experience and care will be at a successful level. The savings in the long term being considerable, against the initial planning and outlay.

Caring for the caregiver

Linda Sage MA BA Ed(Hons)

Compassion Fatigue is not the same as stress!

What is Compassion Fatigue?

So you work in health/social care, or education. Perhaps as an OT or physio? Doctor, nurse, social worker, speech and language therapist, teacher, Teaching Assistant, lecturer, or administrator…(we could go on…)

Perhaps you work in a hospital environment? Or in the community? Maybe in palliative care? In a school, college or university. You may work for a Government entity, a charity, a private organisation… (you get the idea).

But whatever your role you probably work with people who are ill, suffering, in distress, undergoing some kind of trauma or dealing with multicultural issues.

Your role requires emotional, psychological and physical input. There are long hours, deadlines and a wide variety of demands on your time.

All of which means you are at risk of compassion fatigue.

Compassion Fatigue is the gradual wearing down of compassion and empathy, or the ability to care over a period of time.

It is what happens when the stories and experiences of the people we are caring for or teaching and working with overwhelm us. Add to this the stresses of our own personal life, and the expectations of the organisation we work for and the results can be:

Exhaustion, emotionally, mentally and physically

Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach pains, inability to sleep

Emotional symptoms such as low moods (or mood swings), anger, frustration, anxiety, a feeling of ‘why bother’, anger, frustration, bottling up of emotions, crying more often than usual, small annoyances become huge issues.

A change in the way we see the world and the people we work with, less tolerance of clients/patients/students, leading to a negative attitude, over generalisation (John is ALWAYS so difficult to work with, Eve NEVER appreciates what I do…) and a tendency to avoid situations or patients/clients/students we perceive as difficult.

Compassion Fatigue is a normal consequence of doing the work you do, over a period of time. It is an erosion, it is not a medical diagnosis, it is a set of signs and symptoms that you can choose to do something about.

To know more You do not have to suffer in silence or alone.

Here’s to your success

Caring for the caregiver

Linda Sage MA BA Ed (Hons)

The Effectiveness is in the Balance

burnout new1   Ask yourself the question, “Where am I going?” For most of us, that is a question upon which we spend far too little time. And when we do, it is usually because of some out-of-the-ordinary situation that has happened, forcing us to take a look. Well, let’s take the “have to” out of it, and really spend a few (or several) moments honestly observing where we are going. (Honesty is a key piece in this.)
You might want to write down your thoughts and observations. Journaling will provide you with more insights and “ah ha!” moments than you can imagine. Once you see these thoughts on paper, you will see patterns start to emerge – patterns that may not have been obvious while they were locked inside your brain.
invest in you  Once you have honestly figured out where you are going, it’s time to decide if this is what you “want.” Let’s face it, sometimes life gets in the way, and we lose contact with those things that we know will fulfill us. Not material things, but letting loose of those talents and abilities that have been locked up inside us.
So, when you have a few moments of quiet, let your mind “out for a walk” and spend some time thinking about what it is you really want – want to have, want to be, want to do. Hang out a sign that says, “No Restrictions” on your musings, just let your mind wander. Write down what you are thinking about. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the next step in the process.
Now that you have your list of “wants” or “goals” in your different areas, it’s time to check and see how they fit together. Today, let’s talk about goal-setting for a well-balanced life.
When you think about growing as a person, there are many distinct areas you can consider. Do you want to grow as a spouse or parent, in your social relationships, in your job or career? What about your physical and mental health, your intellectual pursuits, your spiritual life? You can also grow in the things you do for fun or in your involvement with your community. Remember, the choices are ours to make. No “have to’s” here.
mindset + behaviour   Have you ever known anyone who puts so much energy into growth in one or two areas that they ignore or neglect the others? This is one thing that you want to avoid. A good way to stay both on track and in balance is to write out goals for every distinct area in your life. While you are at it, check to be sure that your goals fit together in a consistent manner.
For example, you have a goal to become a better father. However, if your career and personal goals take you away from home a great deal, or leave you too preoccupied to function well when you are at home, you might want to take another look at your priorities and adjust your balance.
This is a good way to help you clarify your values too. Make a list of your values and match them to your list of goals. Do they match or is there a disconnect? What is most important to your life? Why? Is that where most of your time, energy, and attention are going? Do you feel that your goals are helping you become a well-balanced person?
Here’s to your success
Linda Sage
Caring for the caregiver

Compassion fatigue is the natural consequence of caring for and helping traumatized or suffering people

Featured Image -- 945   Compassion fatigue is caused by empathy. It is the natural consequence of stress resulting from caring for and helping traumatized or suffering people. It involves a preoccupation with an individual or his or her trauma, and it doesn’t require being present at the stressful event. Simply being exposed to another person’s painful narrative can be enough. Author and researcher Beth Hudnall Stamm defines compassion fatigue as the convergence of primary stress, secondary traumatic stress and cumulative stress in the lives of helping professionals and other care providers.

burnout new1  For those in the helping professions, early recognition and improved self-care both in and out of the workplace are key to creating wellness. Many caregivers focus on others at the expense of their own well-being. It is crucial for them to replenish themselves and commit to having a life outside of work that includes daily nurturing activities. People often understand this concept intellectually, but the knowledge doesn’t necessarily lead to taking better care of themselves.
Caring for the Caregiver Book cover  It is important for individuals and their employers to recognize and challenge the psychological obstacles that get in the way of self-care, such as the belief that focusing on personal needs is selfish or indulgent. Enlightened self-interest is quite different from narcissistic preoccupation. Self-care actually increases a caregiver’s capacity to care for others. Self-care, however, is not just about making healthy lifestyle choices — it is about being present with one’s feelings, sensations and intuitive guidance in order to detect what is best in any given moment.

Relationships as Opportunities to Grow

Relationships as Opportunities to Grow
get help   What can you do when you want to improve your marriage or close relationship, but your significant other seems to be content with the way things are?
Marriage or other close relationships offer us unique opportunities to grow. Sometimes, though, conflict arises when partners in romantic relationships have different visions of what the relationship should be like and different ideas about the direction it should take.
If you think your close relationship could use some work but your partner doesn’t, what do you do? Well, for starters, you don’t start blaming them for disagreeing with you and neither should you assume that there is something wrong with you. What you can do, instead, is share your visions with each other. Can you describe, as specifically as possible, without blaming or judging, just how you see the problem? Can you describe, just as specifically, what you see the future as being?
Sometimes professional couples counselling can be a great help in opening faulty lines of communication.  But, whether you decide to get help or not, make sure you stay focused on a vision of how the relationship will look when it is fixed, and maintain a non-blaming, non-judgmental attitude throughout. It isn’t always easy, but if you can take the emotion out of the situation long enough, the situation becomes clearer and possibly easier to manage when decisions need to be made.
Remember that disagreement doesn’t have to mean someone is wrong, and conflict can lead to greater harmony if it is handled properly.
Getting to the end of another year is an achievement, whether it is in a personal or professional relationship, no doubt there have been challenges, changes and compromise to surmount, but reflecting back is always a great learning curve as we do not always see how much we have learnt, or the distance you have travelled whilst in the journey.
Possibly you are in a different place physically or mentally today than where you were on the 1st January, 2017.  That is great and moving forward is important.  Sometimes it is faster and sometimes slower, but movement keeps goals and dreams alive.  Keeping a log or a diary show you just how much you have achieved, even the small achievements soon mount up.
Plan for the whole of 2018, then break them down into smaller segments, three months and monthly.  Keeps you on track and accountable, both very important to get you to where you want to be a year from now.
Be kind to yourself, be true to what you want and enjoy your journey, it is not just about the end result.
Very happy season’s greetings for you and your family for this wonderful festive time, very happy, healthy Christmas and New Year from me and all at Successful Mindset Ltd.
Here’s to your success

I have just lost 66 hours, because I did not take my own advice!

Sunday morning in Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK. I woke up to a white sugarlike coating on the rooftops, the cars with a crispy ice covering. This is the first time I have looked out of the window in 66 hours and most of those hours I have slept!

A bit like; physician heal yourself!!  I have been so very busy really all of this year, moving counties, getting settled in the UK and working, writing and publishing the book, along with presentations, the radio shows and doing work in secure units; which is always mentally exhausting. My eating habits had declined and exercise had become a note on the diary, but then always excuses why not.

I decided to take a few days to see my family  (I have not seen many of them since 2004!)  A five hour drive in freezing conditions, and I mean freezing; one of the factors of Compassion Fatigue is making errors, I had to put up with those sub-zero conditions, because I had not put any water in the radiator! How my car did not explode or overheat, that is a miracle.

I travelled back with my daughter and grandson in the car, after coming back to Kent from London, I got off the train at the wrong station, in the middle of nowhere; by the time I realized the train was leaving the station. I walked to the main road and followed the signs to the hospital, I asked a lady where I could get a bus, or taxi as I had got off the train by mistake. Very kindly she offered to take me to the centre of Maidstone, from where I could walk to my daughter’s house.

So, off we started on a 5 hour drive back to Yorkshire, mostly uneventful even though weather conditions were fairly dire. A very much more comfortable journey with heat, now that she had filled the radiator with water!

Arriving back at stupid o’clock in the morning, we finally crawled into bed in a very cold house, on Monday we had to get organised and shop, which was a late start, so the day was gone quickly. Back to work Tuesday and Wednesday, feeling tired and aching which is unlike me. Got through the days and collapsed into bed early both evenings.

Thursday, peeled myself out of bed and went to work, my tummy was gurgling and I felt “a bit off,” but just get on with it. Until the body thought otherwise…… by midday – I was “evacuating” violently from both ends!  I got home, crawled into bed at 2pm on the Thursday 14th December and I have slept most of the time until 7.30am Sunday 17th December.

When we push ourselves too hard, our bodies will take over for our own benefit, slowing us down and saying take care of yourself too. No matter how experienced we are, or how much we know; it is easy to drop into this void. Remembering to say no to too many demands, and to yes to looking after yourself.

This time of year especially, where there are so many more demands on your time and your attention, give yourself the present of “me time,” no guilt, do it before your body does it for you.

Happy, healthy festive season.

Linda Sage Caring for the Caregiver

You, First

Featured Image -- 945  If you are giving part of yourself each day of your life, as a profession, volunteer, home carer, or support worker don’t feel guilty about being interested in pursuing personal growth (feeling better in yourself), it does not mean you are a selfish person.  Personal growth does affect relationships with others and with yourself.
There is no question about it. We need to have a caring relationship with ourselves before we can expect others to do so. However, being interested in personal growth doesn’t mean you’re selfish. In fact, it’s quite the contrary.
In his book, “The Psychology of Romantic Love,” Nathaniel Brandon wrote, “The first affair we must consummate successfully is the love affair with ourselves. Only then are we ready for other love relationships.” In other words, if we don’t even like ourselves, it’s going to be difficult to love others.  When I use the word love, it is not just the romantic, or the paternal, or the friendship kind, it is the empathy, understanding and kindness for patients and colleagues.
You see, no matter how concerned we are about others, we are ultimately responsible only for ourselves. If we feel inadequate and victimised, then we have no power to offer another person security and strength. Without that firm personal foundation, we are building our relationships on what amounts to quicksand.
Self-development means being the best you can be and giving the best that you can give. It means asking yourself, “If I were living with me or caring for me, would I want to stay around?” Yes, that’s a big question, one that demands an answer. Then, you change what you need to change according to that answer you have given yourself.  You don’t need to make a big deal about it, but realising it, is a huge step forward.
You see, although there are tremendous personal benefits to self-development, it is, perhaps, in your relationships with others that a commitment to personal growth will bring you the most gratifying changes – and a deeper sense of happiness and contentment
If you are in a senior position, then showing your team you care for about yourself, take your wellbeing seriously; they will have a model to follow.  Being the leader you would want to follow, sets the example.  Not so many years ago practitioners were smoking around patients, they were not sanitising hands or using gloves for general practice.  All of these changes have made a difference in patient care.
All staff are overworked and stressed with deadlines, cutbacks and red tape.  The more frustrated you become with your situation, your staff/colleagues, patients, the system and life in general; the more you are turning in on yourself.
Taking time to support yourself, allow your feelings to surface, take breaks even very short self-centring techniques can lower your blood pressure and lighten your mood.  These are not a long-term solution, but each small step, leads to the next.
Compassion Fatigue is depleting all of our caregiving services, taking care of yourself is not a luxury, it is a necessity.  It is partly the responsibility of employers to support workers, but at the end of the day; it is your life, your responsibility.
Care for yourself, as much as you care for others.  If you want to know how to feel better, let me know.

Linda Sage  MA, BA Ed(Hons) – Caring for the Caregiver