Care for the Caregivers

This time of the year my heart goes out to all people working in caring professions. Doctors, social workers, nurses, NSRI staff, teachers, fieldworkers, police, emergency services, etc. Their plight is hard throughout the year but for some reason during the festive season I become painfully aware that, as everyone is celebrating and taking a load off, many cargivers are working hard to keep everyone safe and healthy. 

Our Passion, at The Family Counselling Centre, is the community, “Building Healthy Relationships” and assisting those who do the work on the ground. Care for the caregiver is a lovely concept yet strangely it is extremely underutilized. Those in the caring professions are so busy caring for others that selfcare is often overlooked. The rising awareness of the extremely high rate of burnout and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) in the caring professions, seems to make very little difference to the individual. Caregivers often struggle to receive care, not necessarily because it is unavailable but rather because it feels intimidating to allow another caregiver – the counsellor – into their own struggles. Proactive organizations with good HR departments offer assistance in the form of staff development activities and maybe counselling. Although a good start, counsellors report that employees often do not want to be seen as struggling and so do not make use of the services offered.

Traditionally it is known that counselling is most effective when clients seek assistance themselves. However, if they do not or cannot seek professional assistance because of fear of loss of job or reputation, then their survival depends on coping without seeking this assistance. This scenario is especially tragic in the caring professions. The irony is that caring for the caregivers will not only assist the individual but will increase their efficacy in their chosen profession.

How then can we assist those who work so hard to keep our community going? The idea is to mandate your staff to a minimum number of sessions per quarter or per year. If your employees are mandated, then no one can say that they are not coping.  It is ideal to try and make use of an external counsellor because they are not on site to “watch your employees work”. Instead they are a separate entity with no obligation to supervisors or employers.

An introductory individual session for all employees is needed to allow the counsellor to lay out the parameters, ensure the confidentiality and explain the benefits.  This initial session will make a future impromptu session during a crisis that much easier. In addition to this initial session, the counsellor ideally conducts the mandatory minimum sessions with each employee and possible staff development workshops (e.g. communication skills, dealing with trauma, stress management, understanding grief etc.) to further encourage a “safe” working environment and grow a culture of understanding and selfcare.

The mentality of someone working in the caring profession is such that during crisis their best way of coping is to assist. Unfortunately, once the crisis is over, everyone goes on their merry way and the weary caregiver is left with no assistance or ways to cope with their own turmoil, and possible secondary trauma. This is when the mandated sessions provide a convenient infrastructure. Mandated sessions also assist in early detection and treatment of possible burnout and PTSD.

Our mission is to provide affordable yet professional assistance to the community and our passion is to assist the caregivers of our valley.

If you are inserted in assisting your staff call to be the best at their job thoughout the year call me on 0723756089 Andrea Nettel (Founding Director & Counsellor).

 

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