It is sometimes challenging to work as a direct support professional (DSP). There are many demands placed on direct care staff which can create stress. Due to this fact, DSPs need strategies for dealing with the expectations placed on them.
DSPs must help and care about the individuals for whom they are providing supportive services. However, over time, this expectation can have a grueling effect on a direct care staff’s mental and emotional health? Sometimes support staff may feel like their well has run dry and they are burned out. They may feel like they can only give so much. There is a term for this feeling, and it is called compassion fatigue.
The term compassion fatigue is used to describe healthcare, emergency and community service workers who experience higher levels of stress due to the unique nature of their professions. This stress can cause caregivers to suffer from feelings of burnout. Caregiver burnout can create a state of mental and physical exhaustion with reduced coping abilities.
Over time the ability to provide empathetic and caring support is diminished. Beyond providing care, administrative and regulatory requirements can also add one more layer of stress. Paper spreadsheets and timecards may have worked in the past, but not now. Federal and state mandates for electronic visit verification (EVV), as well as other documentation requirements, force healthcare workers to use new technologies and procedures. These unfamiliar protocols can increase the level of stress in both direct care staff and supervisors.
A few signs of compassion fatigue and burnout include irritability, negative feelings, exhaustion and a reduced ability to feel empathy. These symptoms can lead to increased absenteeism, health issues and strained relations with the individuals for who they are providing services. In more extreme cases, people may suffer from depression and anxiety disorders or have an elevated risk for drug use and addiction.
It is to the everyone’s benefit if feelings of burnout are addressed and remedied. DSPs need to stay health and focused on the their tasks. It is normal to feel stress, but these emotions should not disrupt a person’s life.
Here are few tips for reducing stress:
- Create a work life balance: people should have interest outside of their professions. This can be anything they find enjoyable or relaxing. Examples include reading, sports, gardening, etc.
- Organize and plan: the more organized people are in their life, the less likely they will feel like things are out of control. Running late, misplacing items and forgetting appointments adds more stress to an individual’s daily life.
- Positive outlook: life is challenging. Sometimes things do not work out. People cannot control all outcomes, but they can control their feelings about an outcome. No one is perfect and people should resist the temptation for perfection. Situations can be improved, but the pursuit of perfection will likely create disappointment.
- Time off and selfcare: Everyone needs to disconnect from their daily tasks. Even taking a few minutes off can help people lower their internal stress levels. Activities such as yoga or deep breathing exercises will allow people to let go of stress. At the same time, DSPs should strive to develop and maintain healthy life habits. This includes good nutrition, regular exercise and adequate sleep. A healthy body is better able to successfully handle stress.
- Do not be afraid: If people are unable to find relief for their stress, they should not be afraid to seek help. Talking over a problem with someone they trust is a step in the right direction. Seeking help from their supervisor or a therapist is helpful. The goal is to find ways to deal with the stress.
In the end, a sense of patience, respect and appreciation will go a long way in overcoming compassion fatigue and general feelings of being burned out.
At eWebSchedule, we provide software tools and account management services for Ohio Provider Agencies that deliver support for individuals with developmental disabilities. Our software solution is just one of the many services offered by ABCS RCM (Advanced Billing & Consulting Services). At the end of the day, eWebSchedule’s tools streamline an agencies operational task and administrative expenses.
Advanced Billing & Consulting Services delivers a variety of solutions for healthcare professionals, including account management & billing services for waiver provider agencies.
As a company with a long history in Ohio, eWebSchedule has an long track record of providing services and tools that optimize a provider agency’s back office and billing process. ABCS is proud of the fact that, as an Ohio-based company, we are familiar with the unique needs and challenges facing Ohio waiver provider agencies.
Contact ABCS for more information at 614.890.9822.
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