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Who’s Taking Care of You? Why Self-Care is Important For Caregivers

By October 20, 2017Moments

Classic LifeCare recently took part SafeCare BC called Be Care Aware: Who’s Taking Care of You? The campaign is raising awareness about the importance of balance, support and mental health in the lives of care providers.

SafeCare BC is a non-profit association that works to ensure safe working conditions for continuing care workers in BC–the caregivers who form the backbone of the Classic LifeCare team. While the organization is focused on providing resources for care workers, there is help and guidance for family caregivers as well.

At Classic LifeCare we’re taking steps to ensure members of our caregiving team receive the support and tools they need to avoid, just like family caregivers, caregiver burnout.

Being “Care Aware”

Just like family caregivers, continuing care staff work in long term care and home care and support. They are passionate and hard working, yet their work can be challenging and stressful. They also have some of the highest injury rates of all workers in BC. That’s why continuing care staff need to take care of themselves, so they are able to take care of others.

To help caregivers, SafeCare BC has launched a new campaign for caregivers aimed raising the awareness that mental health has a huge impact on care providers. Aimed at paid caregivers, the Be Care Aware campaign is intended to help caregivers develop strategies to deal with burnout.

The costs of caregiver burnout can be high:

  • High stress levels are associated with increased health care and disability costs, absenteeism, turnover, and reduced productivity.
  • Workplaces that have positive work environments have better organizational performance, in terms of health and safety, and outcomes for residents and clients.
  • Healthy organizational cultures nurture employee well-being, engagement and performance.

Ultimately, happy members of our caregiving team at Classic LifeCare mean in turn a higher quality of life for our clients, and our clients’ families.

Self-care is important for all caregivers

There are as many as one million family caregivers in British Columbia who provide an estimated $3.5 billion in unpaid help, risking “caregiver burnout.” Typically unpaid, these caregivers are family members who provide help and support for another family member, such as an aging parent.

Balancing family, work and providing unpaid care, family caregivers are increasingly experiencing symptoms of distress such as anger, depression or feelings of not being able to continue with their caregiving duties.

Professional caregivers, while paid, also experience these same mental health challenges. The problem is that the challenges of caring for an aging parent can be endless.

“One of those challenges is that there are no cut and dry answers for things,” says one professional caregiver interviewed by SafeCare BC. “It can be difficult to adjust my expectations and still feel like I am making a positive impact.”

The caregiver says she was initially uncomfortable about the concept of self-care.

“The term ‘self care’ used to make me want to run for the hills,” she said. “It seemed so selfish to be wasting time worrying about myself, when daily I work with people who are struggling to have some of their very basic needs met.”

The problem was that, due to the demands of being a caregiver, her own quality of life was suffering. She was not eating or sleeping properly, and had little enthusiasm for life. She needed a change.

“(One)helpful thing I added to my day is stopping on my way home from work to sit and reflect for a while. I do an inventory of how my day went, what I did well, and what I could do better tomorrow. I try to leave all that stuff there, and ride home without it,” she says, and also mentions other ways she deals with stress and takes time for herself. “Implementing a few of these tools each day has made an incredible difference in my mental health, how well I am able to cope with difficulties at work, and how much physical energy I have left at the end of a day.”

Work-life balance quiz for caregivers

It can be difficult to identify burnout. As part of the Be Care Aware campaign, SafeCare BC has collected resources and tools to help caregivers achieve good work/life balance. Achieving work/life balance means having equilibrium among all the priorities in your life – this state of balance is different for every person. But, as difficult as work/life balance is to define, most of us know when we’re out of balance. To find out more about your own personal balance, try taking this quiz (the quiz can be found here):

Reminder: This is not a scientific test, and the results are not a substitute for professional advice. If you feel that you may need advice, please consult a qualified health care professional.

Who’s Taking Care of You?

Classic LifeCare happily participated in an important video promoting safety and encouraging care providers to take care of themselves, so they can take care of others. Classic Health Care Worker Maria, when asked by Clinical Leader Susan Fulton, agreed to participate in the video by SafeCare BC. Maria is featured in one video and pictured in another.

Susan suggested Maria for the video because she is a good example of someone who takes care of herself, so she can care for others.

Watch the video here:

More information about the videos can be found here.