The home health profession is emotionally, physically and mentally demanding—we don’t need to tell you that! However, like many aspects of health care, those working to support patients whether directly or indirectly in administrative roles are at high risk of burnout. While you may think career-related burnout is “no big deal” it can have a major impact on your mental health and your quality of life.
Burnout is also a serious problem for home health employers because it can lead to increased employee turnover, loss of productivity, increases in patient safety incidents, and higher health care costs. Providing tools and programs to help nip burnout in the bud for home health professionals is a smart investment and the right thing to do to keep your employees ready and able to work at full capacity.
The first step in helping to beat burnout is recognizing the signs of it in yourself and your employees. This list can help:
Chronic fatigue: Working in home health and being a busy working professional can make anyone tired! However, fatigue that lasts days or weeks without letting up is likely more serious. Chronic fatigue like this is both a predictor and symptom of burnout.
Inattention: Being unable to focus or having fragmented attention is another sign of burnout. If you become overwhelmed on a regular basis forgetting routine things can become a very problematic and dangerous sign of burnout.
Negativity: For those experiencing burnout, it can feel like the world is against them and they adopt a pessimistic view of just about everything. This is what experts call the depersonalization element of burnout and it can have a serious impact on mental health.
Wanting to be alone: If you or a colleague start to avoid social aspects of work or their personal life, it is a strong indicator that burnout may be a problem. At work, if someone who is usually enthusiastic to spend time with co-workers now avoids it, that can be a red flag, too.
Feeling irritated: If you’re constantly on edge, it could be less about the situation at hand and more about how you are feeling at work. Constantly feeling irritated—even f you are away from work—is another warning sign of burnout.
Declining performance: Burnout not only affects how you feel about your work, but also your ability to do it well. When an employee has burnout, they may not perform as well as they used to. It’s important to have a conversation about any decline in performance to see if burnout may be at the root of it.
If you recognize one or more of these symptoms in a co-worker or you consider whether it’s job-related stress—or if these feelings and behaviors are pervasive, it may be prudent to probe at whether it’s actually a case of burnout symptoms. If you think it may be burnout, take action by allowing some time away from work and having the affected individual check in with their own doctor. Nipping burnout in the bud is the best way to avoid the long-term negative consequences of it.
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