By: Lynne Arbeitel
Caring for patients while caring for yourself can be a difficult balance, especially in a COVID-19 era. With nursing shortages increasing and statistics showing burnout levels at an all-time high, Director of Wound Care, Lynne Arbeitel, RN-BC, CWON gives tips on how home health clinicians can reduce personal burnout while providing care for patients.
The Home Health Challenge:
Home health clinicians face unique stressors that are not typically experienced in other healthcare settings. I have worked in home healthcare over 25 years, and during my career working in home care I have discovered strategies that have decreased my stress level and increased my performance.
Strategies For Stress Management
1. Eat Well
Well-balanced eating is crucial to managing your stress level. I make sure to always pack a nutritious lunch. With my lunch, I pack a few light “grab and go” snacks that I can eat while I drive or chart, such as: nuts, carrots, celery sticks, or pieces of fruit. I pack enough drinks to stay hydrated.
2. Take a Time for Yourself
It’s important to make time for yourself. I like to take a 10 or 15 minute walk to clear my head and perform deep relaxation breathing techniques to stay mindful. I enjoy singing along to the radio in my car, which helps to pass the time while sitting in traffic and decreases my feelings of stress.
3. Stay Organized
My car is my office, so I keep my car clean and neat. Keeping my car and my patient schedule organized is key to my efficiency, productivity, and satisfaction. I prepare by reviewing my patients in advance and ensuring that I have all the information, equipment, and products needed to complete my visits.
4. Stay Up-to-Date on Skills and Knowledge
Home health clinicians work independently within a patient’s home environment and are required to perform a variety of skills, including answering patient and family members’ questions. I read journals, listen to podcasts, and attend professional conventions and conferences to advance my knowledge and skills. This ensures I take the best care of my patients and answer their questions.
5. Remind Yourself That Your Work Is Important
Home health care is both mentally and physically challenging, and on certain days it can feel overwhelming. On these days, I remember the population that I am visiting and how vulnerable and alone they are. Often, I may be the only person they see that day. Home care clinicians not only provide medical care but also provide socialization to those that are homebound. At the end of each day, I know that I have made someone’s day better and brighter.
6. Stay Flexible
You can build resilience to both personal and professional demands by being flexible, and continuously revisiting your goals. Whether it is a stressful moment or long-term planning, keeping my goals in mind helps me overcome my challenges and stay resilient. On a daily basis, flexibility is important for patient visit scheduling and fulfilling patients’ needs. My personal resilience has been supported by my ability to review and revise my goals, so that I have a successful vision for future goals.
7. Identify Burnout Before It Becomes an Issue
It’s important for clinicians to have the resources they need to be successful in their patient care. Like many clinical illnesses, it is crucial to recognize the signs and symptoms of burnout before it becomes problematic. Employers can provide education to clinicians on how to recognize burnout, so clinicians do not feel isolated and can seek support immediately. Furthermore, employers can take an active approach to burnout prevention by asking for real time feedback, and listening to clinician needs. Understanding that work-life balance is necessary can further help to prevent burnout.
8. Work with an Employer that Values You onehome supports the well-being of its clinical staff by offering mammogram screenings, biometric screenings, COVID-19 immunizations, immunizations for flu and hepatitis B, and many other benefits. onehome offers financial wellness seminars, a team member mental health program, and social wellness opportunities (such as toy drives and food drives). I feel that it is important to work with an employer like onehome that supports both me and the community.