2.6 Work / Care Stress and Burnout
The topic offers theoretical tools and practical suggestions for carers how to understand and how to best deal with this problem.
After completing the topic, you will be able to:
- Ability to detect and analyse personal and be able to recognise the symptoms of work/carer stress;
- Identification of risk factors in the health and care sector capable of generating chronic stress phenomena on workers and carers.
- Ability to carry out simple risk assessment and how to identify symptoms.
- Knowing how to manage some aspects of stress.
Dementia not only imposes a significant impact on the life of the person experiencing dementia but also on those involved in their care. Stress can affect both professional and family or friends who carry out the caregiving role. Recognition of the possibility of stress and/or burnout can be a useful tool for both carers and people with dementia. Studies in the UK and worldwide have shown that recognising and tackling stress in people with dementia, their family or friends and carers all valued mental stimulation and engaged in meaningful activities which helped them keep in touch and experience better the world that surrounds them.
The caregiver sometimes gives assistance voluntarily and free of charge. It is a choice that, even in the best situations, involves a load of responsibilities, concerns and duties. Furthermore, the caregiver often assumes this role in an unexpected, sudden or gradual way with the onset and worsening of the illness of a person. Therefore, they may often be unprepared, neither technically nor psychologically, and in the absence of support from other figures or material resources to delegate care to professionals, he/she will usually feel they have no choice.
The caregiver often has no set weekend, holiday or sick days and often doesn’t really go on holiday even when physically they can.
The focus in this topic allows participants to be offered a study of the construct of burnout and the techniques developed by the psychotherapy model for the treatment of this problem.
- Who is a caregiver? What is your “burden” in dementia?
The Anglo-Saxon term caregiver generally means “the one who takes care”. The term caregiver is used to define the reference figure of someone who is in a condition of need and not complete self-sufficiency.
- Caregiver Stress
A certain amount of stress and suffering is expected and inherent in the choice to take care of another, and the caregiver may find themselves without realising it making efforts and sacrifices, denying himself/herself opportunities for recreation and socialising
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is one of the psychotherapies of the so-called third wave of cognitive-behavioural therapies. ACT offers a perspective that helps people integrate their emotional experiences, especially the most difficult and painful ones, into their lives. Often the stressed caregiver looks for ways to silence the negative feelings they experience. He does not allow himself to feel negative feelings and emotions as long as they are not excessive and overwhelming.
However, this daily attempt not to feel negative emotions in the long run wears out and becomes a problem itself. How much energy does it cost us not to want to feel certain emotions? How much effort do we make? What do we give up in order not to hear? ACT’s perspective is to stop fighting this battle in order not to hear; proposes to caregivers to welcome emotions, even unpleasant ones, to regain energy and contact with their emotional world.
- Burnout Syndrome, also known as Caregiver syndrome, is a psychological breakdown that involves the assistance work and family state. Those who hold the role of Caregiver within a family unit in the presence of people in need of care are at risk of failure.
- Stress is not a problem in itself; it is instead a normal physical and psychological reaction to important situations that require energy, effort and concentration. But the problems begin when these stimuli are too intense, excessive, or prolonged over time, forcing the person to “consume” a lot of energy and psychological resources to stop the situation.
We speak precisely of the burden of the caregiver, from the English “burden” or “weight”, to define a set of conditions that weigh on the caregiver and create discomfort and suffering.
- CARERS UK (2015) Alone and caring: isolation, loneliness and the impact of caring on relationships. Available at http://www.carersuk.org/forprofessionals/policy/policy-library/alone-caring
- Chadda, R.K., Singh, T.B. & Ganguly, K.K. (2007). Caregiver burden and coping: A prospective study of relationship between burden and coping in caregivers of patients with schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 42, 923-930.