Occupational Therapy and Compassion Fatigue: How to Help the Caregiver Get Care

594 Words Jul 8th, 2012 3 Pages
Occupational Therapy and Compassion Fatigue: How to help the caregiver get care
By Randi Johnson Hanson MSRS, OTR/L

The topic of “Compassion Fatigue” has been a hot topic within the caregiving profession of nursing in the past decade. Joinson (1992) defines compassion fatigue as “a unique and expanded form of burnout in which the environmental stressors of the workplace coupled with the patient’s physical and emotional needs contributes to the caregiver becoming tired, depressed, angry, ineffective, apathetic and detached”. Given the psychosocial demands of occupational therapy as a hands-on caregiving profession, it is my proposal that we look at compassion fatigue within the realm of O.T. and how to help prevent it and how to
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Caregivers need to take “me time” in order to develop their own sense of self worth and keep the domains of their life (physical, emotional, spiritual, social and family) in balance.
Caregivers need to remind themselves to take care of their own basic needs first: eating well and eating enough, staying hydrated, achieving a good night’s sleep and engaging in physical activity to keep the body healthy and serve as a tension reliever. Another helpful way to deal with compassion fatigue is to find colleagues that you can idea share with and have active listening sessions. Allow yourself to grieve if needed: as caregivers we form powerful bonds with our patients and grief is an inevitable part of life that we also need to find time for to give ourselves closure. Adding humor to one’s day is also an essential tool to help alleviate stress.
Even though empathy and compassion are central factors to being an OT, it is essential to remember to take “care of the caregiver” and prioritize your own needs to be fulfilled as well as those of your patient caseload.

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Bush, N.J. (2009). Compassion Fatigue: Are You at Risk?. Oncology Nursing Forum, 36(1), 24-28.
Joinson, C. (1992). Coping with compassion fatigue. Nursing, 22(4), 116-121.
Sabo, B. (2012). Reflecting on the Concept of Compassion Fatigue. The

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