Caregiving and the Challenges of the Job
Caregiving is a rewarding job, and just like any other occupation, it comes with its own set of challenges. If you’re a caregiver, you’ll probably agree. Looming problems greet you at the doorstep each time that you show up for work. But that's ok because you love making a difference in a person's life, especially in the area of health.
How long have you been caring for patients? If you are a newbie, are you aware of the challenges that await you? If you are a seasoned worker, what are the common issues that you face in your job?
Look at our compilation of caregivers' common concerns below. Reflect on how these impact your overall health and the way you care for your patients:
1. Physical stress.
Caregivers bear a heavy workload, assisting patients in their activities of daily living such as feeding, bathing, and dressing. You have to be physically fit to do heavy lifting and to withstand prolonged standing. Because of this type of stress, you’re also at risk of bodily injuries such as muscular and spinal injuries.
There will be times that you’ll have, interrupted or missed meal breaks, too, which in the long run can lower your immunity to diseases.
2. Emotional stress.
When you care for patients who are sick and with limitations, you’re in for an emotional roller coaster. Some patients, especially those in pain and the frustrated ones, tend to be verbally abusive. Verbal attacks can lead to negative feelings in the caregiver, such as anger and exasperation.
You also experience patient deaths. Every life that is lost can leave a lasting mark. Bullying and aggression from co-workers, too, is a significant contributor to emotional stress, which can steal attention away from patient care.
In some workplaces with shortages of workers, caregivers are concerned because it means they don't have enough time to provide quality care that patients and families deserve. They are pressed for time, and so they rush to finish all their tasks.
With only a few people assigned to care for more patients than they can handle, they unintentionally become task-focused and not patient-oriented.
Their main goal is to be able to tick everything in their to-do list instead of establishing meaningful connections with the patient. And this is a big issue because it ultimately leads to a ripple of undesirable effects.
The patients feel the neglect and the lack of sincerity and, therefore, their health is affected, too. Their frustrations and dissatisfaction grow.
The caregiver also becomes too exhausted at work, so they are more at risk of making mistakes. At the end of their shift, it becomes hard for the caregiver to find the time and energy to do something worthwhile for themselves and their family.
4. Long hours.
Whether you work as a personal care aide or a home health aide, you must get used to working long hours because it is a stark reality in your chosen career. Sometimes you're hired to be with the patient for days in a row, and you have to be available to assist them any time day or night. Other times, you end up doing hours of overtime after doing a 12-hour shift.
This problem, when paired with short-staffing, is one reason why some caregivers choose to find another line of work. It leads to exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress, which brings us to the fifth point in our discussion.
Burnout is caused by many work-related problems and it is the unfortunate ending of all the above concerns. When you are feeling burned out, you lack the energy and motivation to be your best. You wake up and drag yourself to work. You're already exhausted even before the start of your shift. You perform below your standard and don't care at all. Burnout severely affects patient care and is usually the reason why caregivers quit.
Being a caregiver has its ups and downs but don't let the negatives discourage you. Caregiving is more than a job. It's a special calling and serves life's purpose. There are workarounds in these situations, and help is available to those who seek it. With the projected increase in the elderly population in the coming decade, your daily contribution is indeed significant.