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Compassion Fatigue Programme | Burn Care Trust

“Burn-out can be crippling for the one experiencing it as well as the patients under their care.”

Compassion Fatigue Programme

Doctors and nurses are involved in direct patient care and are exposed to suffering and negativity on a daily basis. They face increasing demands in the workplace, while at home they juggle family life, personal interests and often care for their own children and their ageing parents as well. We aim to raise awareness in hospital staff and management to empower doctors and nurses to take care of their own needs thereby improving patient care.

Psychologists describe compassion fatigue as a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by long-term involvement in emotionally demanding situations. It is accompanied by disillusionment and negative feelings. Repeated exposure to patient’s suffering can diminish the helper’s trust in humanity and this often leads to a heightened sense of vulnerability.

Compassion fatigue amongst nurses affects the quality of treatment for patients, lowers morale and increases absenteeism, with an accompanying financial impact on the hospital.

Over time, the nurses’ feel under-appreciated and overworked and become numb, disillusioned, hardened and overwhelmed. Often, caregivers don’t realise the negative effects of this type of stress until they experience a health crisis or other significant trauma in their own lives.

Hospital leaders need to understand how downsizing, re-engineering and staff turnover causes burnout in the health of their caregivers.

It takes a multi-pronged approach to minimise the negative impact of compassion fatigue. The organisation and its policies play a key role by creating conditions that not only reduce the risk of burnout and compassion fatigue, but also promote healthy, more effective nurses.

Organisational Symptoms of Compassion Fatigue include:
  • High absenteeism.
  • Constant changes in co-worker’s relationships.
  • Inability for teams to work well together.
  • Desire among staff members to break company rules.
  • Outbreaks of aggressive behaviours among staff.
  • Inability of staff to complete assignments and tasks.
  • Inability of staff to respect and meet deadlines.
  • Lack of flexibility among staff members.
  • Negativism towards management.
  • Strong reluctance toward change.
  • Inability of staff to believe improvement is possible.
  • Lack of a vision for the future.