Beat Burnout in Home Health
Megan Malugani, Monster Contributing Writer
While burnout is a constant threat for healthcare workers in many settings, those in home health aide careers face some unique stressors that can wear down even the most energetic and enthusiastic caregiver. These tips can help you avoid burnout in this emotionally and physically demanding field.
Nurture Your Client Relationships
Research shows that home health aides’ longevity in the field is directly related to the quality of their relationships with clients. Veteran home health aides “really benefit from and derive great pleasure from these relationships,” says Robyn Stone, DrPH, director of the Better Jobs Better Care program at the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.
Gladys Williams, a home health aide since 1996, says the bonds she forms with clients are the best part of her job. “I’m not there to change their life,” she says. “I’m just there to give them a little assistance, be a companion, make them smile and make them feel a little better.”
Get Help with Difficult Clients
New home health aides quickly realize that sick people are often crabby and unhappy and that clients’ families can create conflict. Aides who stay in the field accept those facts and don’t take to heart their patients’ moodiness or the families’ second-guessing or nitpicking. “Oftentimes you are caring for the father or mother, but the whole family is living there,” Williams says. “Everyone wants to be the boss, and you have to learn to just focus on the patient…. You know what you’re supposed to do, and you stick to it.”
If a case becomes really rough, veteran agency aides like Williams will communicate with a supervisor or coordinator. Many agencies will remove an aide from such a case or rotate several aides so the same aide isn’t on duty seven days a week, says Mary Winters, president of the Long Island chapter of the New York State Association of Health Care Providers.
Many home health aides love the independence and flexibility of home health, but the downside is isolation. “There are no real opportunities for working in teams, and there is not a lot of oversight,” Stone says. Home health aides can seek out a collegial, supportive environment by getting more engaged in the organization that sends them out on assignments, she suggests.