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Going from Burnout to Balance: Promoting Well-Being in the Home Care Industry

Updated: Jan 11

Home care is a challenging industry that requires caregivers to be available 24/7, deal with emotional and physical demands, and face mental exhaustion. This not only affects the caregivers but also the schedulers, recruiters, leaders, and agency owners. To address this burnout and promote well-being, it is crucial to create a culture of compassion and support within the agency. As the founder and CEO of Carework, a home hiring expert recruiting agency, I have personally experienced burnout and witnessed it in others. I want to be vulnerable today and chat about the strategies to go from burnout to balance and promote well-being in the home care industry.

"There is such a need for compassion in-home care, and that's one of the things that tends to fall to the wayside when we are burnt out." -Rachel Gartner

Recognizing the Signs of Burnout

One of the first steps in promoting well-being is to recognize the signs of burnout. Caregivers could experience anxiety, irritability, trouble concentrating, and a lack of engagement or social interaction. You, as a leader in the agency, it is important to acknowledge these signs and validate the emotions of the caregivers. By saying, "I hear you, and it's valid to feel that way," we create a culture that supports and understands their challenges.

At Carework, we are made up of almost exclusively military spouses. Each day, my employees show up to hundreds of applicants while also dealing with big life things like deployments, moving often, living far from family, and needing to be emotionally available for their spouses. I’ve learned one of the best things I can say in those moments is a simple, “I hear you, I want to support you. You are valid.”

Addressing Irritability with Compassion

"If this is a new change in behavior or attitude, the irritability that you're seeing might be a sign of burnout."

Knowing how to handle a situation where one of your caregivers or employees is irritable might be harder. Maybe it is a new attitude, or maybe they are great at their job but always struggle with appearing irritable. 

Irritability can be a sign of burnout, and it is important to address it with compassion. You can handle the situation with boundaries. Instead of immediately reprimanding the caregiver for their behavior, start the conversation by acknowledging their positive qualities and expressing surprise at the change in their attitude. For example, saying, "I know you really well. You are great to work with. We're really glad to have you on the team, and I was surprised to hear this feedback. So, I just wanted to check first, is everything okay with you?" This approach shows that you care about their well-being and opens the door for a constructive conversation.

Conducting Regular Check-Ins and Acting on Feedback

Regular check-ins with caregivers are essential to gauge their well-being and address any concerns they may have. By asking for feedback about their workload, concerns, and suggestions for improvement, you create a space for open communication. It is important to act on this feedback whenever possible and publicly thank the caregivers for their input. This not only shows that their opinions are valued but also fosters a culture of continuous improvement.

Anonymous surveys are a great way to get feedback and track any issues that might be a common issue with many of your staff. 

*Make sure your staff knows that when filling out a survey, not to expect immediate change. These questionnaires are to help leaders in the agency, gauge the morale, culture, and workload.

Providing Stress Management Training

Stress management training can be a valuable resource for caregivers and staff. By offering resources on how to deal with stress, build resilience, and develop a growth mindset, you empower them to navigate the challenges of their work. These trainings can also serve as an opportunity to build long-term relationships with caregivers and support their personal development. While not every training will be a resounding success, the availability of these resources and the effort put into supporting their well-being will be appreciated.

Managing Workloads Effectively

Managing workloads is crucial in preventing burnout. While it may be challenging to strike the perfect balance, it is important to ensure that caregivers are not overburdened or underworked. Strive to schedule caregivers in a way that allows them to take time off when needed and provide them with enough hours to meet their financial needs. Communicate openly and transparently about workload challenges and actively work towards finding solutions. By demonstrating that you care about their needs and are actively working to meet them, you create a supportive environment that helps prevent burnout and you will stand out above any other agencies. 

Leading with Compassion

Compassion should be at the forefront of all interactions within the agency. Leading with compassion means acknowledging mistakes, understanding the challenges faced by caregivers, and actively working toward solutions. It also means taking care of oneself as a leader to ensure that you can effectively support those around you. By prioritizing self-care, such as therapy, stress management, and personal development, leaders can better support their team and create a positive work environment.

In the heart of the home care industry lies a vital truth: fostering well-being isn't just a task, it's a culture—a culture fueled by unwavering compassion and steadfast support.

By recognizing the signs of burnout, addressing irritability with compassion, conducting regular check-ins, providing stress management training, managing workloads effectively, and leading with compassion, we can create a balanced and supportive environment for caregivers and staff. While it may not be an overnight fix and not everything is within our control, by taking these steps, we can make a significant impact on the well-being of those in the home care industry. Let us continue to prioritize the well-being of our caregivers and ourselves as we strive to provide the best care possible.

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