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Combating Compassion Fatigue

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Combatting Compassion Fatigue
LC
Grand Canyon University: HLT 310
June 15, 2014

Combatting Compassion Fatigue

Compassion is the core value of the caregiver’s work, and that the essence of compassion is what gives nursing its soulfulness, staying power, and healing resources (Bush, 2009). As health care workers overtime caring and helping patients that are suffering or traumatized can have a toll on us, and this can lead to compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue can suddenly render nurses unable to distinguish between their own emotions and those of their patients (Thompson, 2013). Compassion fatigue can happen to anyone of us, and it should not be ignored. As nurses we have to be aware of the warning signs of compassion fatigue. We can now use proactive measures to deal with this. We spend time providing patient care, but we forget about ourselves. We must take care of ourselves if we want to provide quality patient care.
Warning signs of five concepts of compassion fatigue
There are five major concepts of compassion fatigue, they are cognitive, emotional, behavioral, spiritual, and somatic (Bush, 2009). All healthcare professionals should be aware of the warning signs. These signs should be used as early signals to see if we are suffering from compassion fatigue or if we are vulnerable. When it comes to compassion fatigue early intervention is key. Each person is different so no one person will have the same warning signs. Warning signs of each concept will discussed below.
Concept 1

COGNITIVE
Nature of the Problems and their Causes Cognitive relates to the mind, how one thinks or perceives things. A person suffering from compassion fatigue will have a decrease in their level of cognition. They become so preoccupied with their patients illness or trauma. They will feeling of worthlessness. Cognitive problems that may occur are lowered concentration, apathy, rigidity, disorientation, minimization, preoccupation with trauma (Portny, 2011). Coworkers may see a decrease in their performance and their moral.
Concept 2
EMOTIONAL
Nature of the Problems and their Causes
A person suffering from compassion fatigue may also have emotional symptoms such as: Powerlessness, anxiety, guilt, anger, numbness, fear, helplessness, sadness, depression, depleted, shock, blunted or enhanced affect (Portnoy, 2011). They will also have disturbing dreams sometimes about their patient or a family member in their patient’s situation. They are so preoccupied with their patient’s trauma or illness it is in their subconscious mind so they dream about. They may suddenly and involuntarily recalling a frightening experience while working with a patient or family (Portnoy, 2011). Depression will have this person feeling hopeless and sad. Co-workers may see this person looking sad or depressed. Depression will have this person feeling hopeless and sad.
Concept 3
BEHAVIORAL
Nature of the Problems and their Causes Do to their decreased cognition this will cause behavioral problems. Some behavioral signs are: Irritable, withdrawn, moody, poor sleep, nightmares, appetite change, hyper-vigilance, isolating (Portnoy, 2011). These people may also have conflict with their friends and coworkers. They may also be withdrawn and begin to isolate themselves. Some may become substance or alcohol abusers.
Concept 4
SPIRITUAL
Nature of the Problems and their Causes
Compassion fatigue may have a person question their religious or spiritual beliefs. Some of the spiritual warning signs are: Questioning life’s meaning, pervasive hopelessness, loss of purpose, questioning of religious beliefs, loss of faith/skepticism (Portnoy, 2011). When they lose faith they may become angry with God.
Concept 5
SOMATIC
Nature of the Problems and their Causes
These warning signs relate to or affect the body. Some of the warning signs are: Sweating, rapid heartbeat, breathing difficulty, aches and pains, dizziness, impaired immune system, headaches, difficulty falling or staying asleep (Portnoy, 2011). These people may have frequent colds or infections, they have a low immune system. Stress on the body can make a person very ill.

Physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the caregiver
We are all humans and like with any individual, caregivers have physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
Physical needs of Caregiver Providing care for patients can take a toll on the body. As a caregiver you have to take care of yourself physically. As care givers we tend to eat on the run and consume foods that are not as healthy as it should be. A healthy diet is very important because it will make you feel your best, as well as provide you with the energy you need to provide care. As a caregiver you also need a good night and exercise. Sleep restores the body. Exercise has many health benefit, such as weight loss or maintenance. It can even ease anxiety and depression. Emotional needs of Caregiver
We give so caring and compassion to our patient needs we forget about ourselves. As caregivers we have emotional needs that should be addressed. We all get stressed out one time or another and sometimes we need a break. As caregivers we must deal with our emotions first so we can better deal with our patients.
Spiritual needs of Caregiver
Some caregivers may or may not have spiritual needs. For the care givers that do they should always express their spiritual needs. Practicing your spiritual needs will help you deal with stressful situations better and provide spiritual growth. Having faith helps a person relax and let go.
Coping strategies and resources There are many resources that can help you understand and prevent compassion fatigue. There are self-assessments and reading material on the internet which is useful in providing an early diagnosis. The health care facility I work for has a serenity room for employees only. It is a room with chairs, dim lights and a beautiful waterfall, where you can get a time out for a few minutes. Sometimes you have to leave the unit and get a few minutes for yourself so you can cope with things whether it is personal or patient related. How a person copes is essential in their management. There are different coping strategies an individual may use. I think it also very important to separate work from your home life. Some coping strategies are, exercising, going for a walk, or reading a good book. Sometimes just calling up a friend to go out or just to vent may help you feel better. Utilizing spiritual or religious practices such as prayer or reading the bible may be beneficial as well. Each individual copes differently so it is important to understand oneself and what works for you.
Conclusion
The nursing profession is very demanding and that puts us at risk for emotional and physical exhaustion and this can cause compassion fatigue. We may also encounter challenges when it comes to managing work and a family to me these are two demanding full time jobs. We have to be able to identify the different warning signs of compassion fatigue so we can use the proper interventions to deal with this. We must remember we are in control of our lives. We have to care for ourselves physically emotionally and spiritually first before we can care for others. As a nurse to lose the joy of caring for others is terrible thing, so we must do what we can to keep it.

Reference

Bush, N. (2009). Compassion fatigue: are you at risk?. Oncology Nursing Forum, 36(1), 24-28. Retrieved fromhttp://library.gcu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rzh&AN=2010154574&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Jacobson, J. M. (2012). Risk of compassion fatigue and burnout and potential for compassion satisfaction among employee assistance professionals: Protecting the workforce. Traumatology, 18(3), 64-72. doi:10.1177/1534765611431833

Portnoy, D. (2011). Burnout and Compassion Fatigue: Watch for the Signs. Health Progress. Retrieved fromhttp://www.compassionfatigue.org/pages/healthprogress.pdf

Thompson, A. (2013). HOW SCHWARTZ ROUNDS CAN BE USED TO COMBAT COMPASSION FATIGUE. (cover story). Nursing Management - UK, 20(4), 16-20

http://compassion-fatigue.org/symptoms…...

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