In our last post, you learned how to recognize symptoms of nursing burnout. Today we will present tips on how to fight burnout.
According to the Hospice & Palliative Nurses Association, the hospice care field is facing a critical shortage of palliative care professionals needed to care for the aging baby boomer population.
Nursing managers and hospice administrators must focus on finding and keeping highly qualified hospice care nurses, which can be difficult in today’s climate of understaffing and budget constraints.
This makes it all the more important to recognize and employ strategies to avoid nursing burnout. Over time, most nurses, particularly after-hour hospice care nurses, will experience symptoms. Burnout impacts the quality of patient care and caregiver support.
Hospice care administrators and nursing managers are the primary line of defense against burnout.
5 Tips to Fight Nursing Burnout
Once managers are able to recognize it in their hospice care workers, the following tips can help them fight it:
Acknowledge the Problem
It’s important to foster a culture of open dialogue about this serious issue. In particular, nursing managers and hospice care administrators must communicate that burnout is not a moral failing, but simply a sign that nurses need a break, a change in their role or schedule, or a reassessment of their patient load.
This culture of openness should also:
- Educate nurses on symptoms.
- Encourage them to seek support.
- Encourage them to use paid time off for mental or physical reprieve.
Building on this culture of open dialogue, managers should use conversation and observation to raise their awareness of nurses who need assistance – particularly those nurses who are less likely to share their concerns.
Nursing.com recommends nurses “debrief” after particularly intense episodes, and managers can facilitate that conversation. Once aware, react to these concerns by working to adjust high stress environments with programs, resources, “stress breaks,” or by varying schedules or tasks.
Address Potential Stressors
Some stressors that can be addressed fairly easily include:
- Encourage setting and keeping personal boundaries (i.e. cell phone habits) for better work-life balance.
- Encourage nurses to trust peers to care for patients in their absence.
- Limit contact with off-duty nursing staff and allow them to fully disconnect.
- Assist staff in creating personalized self-care plans and strategies.
Some hospice care managers may need to take a harder look in order to recognize the realistic limitations of the staff and organization. If the problems are endemic, seeking third-party services can help, when appropriate.
Create a Culture of Recognition
Once you begin recognizing and addressing the problems, start preventing them by moving toward a culture of celebrating achievements and focusing on positive feedback.
Medical Solutions’ booklet on preventing nursing burnout points to the power of recognition and how to do it best: “It has been proven that a 2 minute positive and specific detailed recognition of an employees performance once a month will dramatically increase a person’s job satisfaction.”
In addition to in-person feedback, recognize the contributions of after-hour hospice care nurses with rewards, like lunches or gift cards.
Build on this positive culture by organizing fun stress relieving opportunities like art projects, contests, and other creative activities. Incorporate physical activity opportunities, such as walking breaks, stretching and yoga sessions, and access to gym facilities.
Get hospice care nurses involved in developing fun activities and events that will improve job satisfaction and fight nursing burnout. Rebecca Hendren in HealthLeaders Media, also encouraged stress reduction classes, relaxation spaces, mentor and buddy programs, and even counseling.
Is your hospice organization experiencing nursing burnout? AfterHours Nursing Triage may be able to help. Contact us to learn how we can extend your services to reduce demand for your staff.