Nurses burnt out and fatigued by grief and loss

Wednesday, 30 August, 2017

Nurses burnt out and fatigued by grief and loss

Nursing, health and aged-care staff are overwhelmingly impacted by grief and loss in the workplace, with nearly 70% stating it was an issue for them at work, according to a new survey.

Karuna, a charity providing in-home palliative care services, surveyed 100 nursing, health and aged-care staff to identify their needs relating to workplace grief and loss.

“Healthcare and nursing home staff form significant relationships with their clients, patients and residents, so it is not surprising that they can experience grief and loss as a result of their work,” said Karuna’s Marie-Anne Schull.

“Their experience of loss is often overlooked and ignored, and many report burnout and mental health problems as a result.”

Schull said that workplace grief and loss impacted on the ability of employees to perform their roles. They are more likely to be absent, struggle to concentrate, lack energy and suffer fatigue, indecisiveness and a short temper.

“What we found is that health staff overwhelmingly want further support to cope with the day-to-day reality of grief and loss that surrounds them at work,” Schull said.

As a provider of training services for healthcare professionals, Karuna has designed and launched a program for nursing, health and aged-care staff to better manage workplace grief and loss.

“Support for staff is critical. In this program we have identified evidence-based interventions that support staff at an individual, team and management level,” Schull said.

Cancer Council Queensland Community Support Coordinator Carien Rees completed the course during the pilot phase of the program.

“Grief and loss is an inevitable experience when working in an environment with physically unwell clients. This course has allowed me to understand how everyone’s journey in this process is unique, as well as recognise my own coping strategies and how I can improve my self-care to assist in the process of grief and loss,” she said.

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