Feb 06, 2024

Cultivating Caregiver Wellness at Your Assisted Living Facility

Although the caregivers at your residential care facility are paid professionals, they may still experience caregiver burnout. As catering to the needs of others can be physically and emotionally draining, caregiver wellness is critical. Taking care of your employees is a crucial component of your employee retention and risk management strategies.

Caregiving Burnout Statistics

Research published in Acta Biomedica concluded that burnout is prevalent among staff in nursing and residential homes that care for elderly people. This is supported by numerous other studies. For instance, in a 2022 OnShift survey, 49% of the approximately 1,800 senior care professionals named feeling stressed and burned out as the top challenge they faced. Notably, this percentage remained steady even as respondents reported fewer safety concerns related to COVID-19.

The Consequences of Caregiver Burnout

The senior care sector is already experiencing staffing shortages, and burnout could exacerbate this problem.

In a 2023 poll from LeadingAge, 70% of respondents associated with assisted living facilities reported significant or severe workforce shortages. Furthermore, burnout is a significant cause of worker shortages – 73% of respondents said staff are leaving positions due to burnout and professional fatigue.

When burnout causes employees to quit, the remaining workers may face a heavier workload, which could lead to even higher rates of burnout and create a downward spiral. The American Psychological Association (APA) warns that burnout can lead to absenteeism, presenteeism, and job dissatisfaction as well as depression, insomnia, psychological distress, heart disease, headaches, and musculoskeletal pain. The Cleveland Clinic says caregiver burnout is also associated with irritability, frustration, and anger toward others.

Burnout could even contribute to elder abuse. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), two in three employees at institutions such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities admitted to having committed elder abuse in the past year. As the APA explains, burnout is one component of compassion fatigue, which makes it difficult for people to feel empathy for those in their care. A lack of empathy combined with the irritability, frustration, and anger that many burned-out caregivers feel could lead to acts of abuse.

Supporting Your Employees

Caregiver burnout is a serious problem for residential care facilities, impacting employee retention, company morale, and the quality of care for residents. It is therefore essential that employers take steps to prevent and reduce burnout.

An understanding of the causes of burnout can help employers address the issue at its core. The Mayo Clinic says causes of employee burnout include a lack of support, a lack of work–life balance, too much or too little to do, conflict with others, lack of clarity about expectations, and a lack of control.

John Hopkins Medicine lists common causes of caregiver burnout (many of which are relevant to residential care facility staff) as including a heavy workload and conflicting policies or procedures. Caregiver burnout may also occur when individuals feel a lack of mastery – meaning they feel they don’t have the skills or knowledge necessary to succeed – as a well as a lack of autonomy and a failure to achieve goals.

Since the causes of burnout are varied, a variety of steps are needed to mitigate it. Some tactics to employ include:

  • Helping your employees succeed. Give your workers the ongoing training and support they need to provide quality care.
  • Providing time to recharge. Even with support, caregiving is mentally and physically draining. Residential care employees need time off to recharge. Make sure your workers are using their time off and avoid reaching out to them with questions during this time.
  • Keeping workloads manageable. During worker shortages, you may be tempted to burden workers with heavier workloads, but this can backfire by contributing to burnout and turnover. Assess workloads regularly to keep them manageable.
  • Making expectations clear. Create clear policies and procedures that are both consistent and achievable. Workers should always know what you expect of them and should have the resources necessary to meet these expectations.
  • Providing wellness resources. Wellness tools that promote healthy sleep, exercise, mindfulness, and nutrition can contribute to holistic wellbeing and mitigate the effects of burnout.
  • Listening to your workers. Create open channels of communication to enable your workers to voice their concerns and frustrations. Take this feedback seriously!
  • Recognizing your staff’s hard work. Everyone wants to feel valued. Make sure you regularly express your appreciation for your employees.

Caregiver wellness is a critical part of your residential care facility’s risk management strategy. So is maintaining comprehensive insurance. Tangram provides assisted living business insurance through the Personal Care & Assisted Living Insurance Center (PCALIC). Learn more.