The World Heath Organization (WHO) has recently catalogued Employee Burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. Not only is burnout real, but it’s also now classified as an official workplace syndrome, or “occupational phenomenon”. WHO characterizes burnout by three dimensions:

  1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  2. Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  3. Reduced professional efficacy.

 This is an increasing issue in many occupations; however it is particularly effecting health care workers. A recent survey by the RN Network reported many factors that tie into healthcare burnout, including high stress environments, understaffing, employee turnover and more.  

Shortages of Providers and Staff

There is no question—nurses work in some of the most high-stress environments in the world. In addition, nurses working with in long term care facilities or nursing homes experience a different kind of chaos and stress. The need for nurses specializing in senior care is rising, while the supply is becoming critically short.

The Baby Boomer generation began turning 65 in 2011, sending us into a demographic shift. According to a recent study from the U.S Census Bureau, there has been a 50% increase in the number of Americans aged 65 years and older. The study also reported that the United States is the second oldest region in the world. By the year 2035, there will be a larger population of people 65 and older than any other population. The elderly population will outnumber children for the first time in American history. This poses unique challenges for senior healthcare in America, as the demographic shift is coupled with the current nursing shortage.

Unfortunately, too few healthcare workers are trained to help with seniors. In an industry that is constantly growing and evolving, healthcare workers are in more demand than ever. The United States will need to hire 2.3 million new health care workers by 2025 in order to fulfill the demand for senior care. And in long-term care and nursing homes, nurses and staff report more emotional stresses than in other nursing communities. Facilities often experience high employee turnover, especially when burn out is not monitored or addressed.

A Bit About Burnout

A recent study reports that up to 44% of employees feel symptoms of burn out. Consequently, burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking new employment. Statistics also show that more than 60% of work absenteeism is due to psychological stress and burn-out. So, how do you recognize the symptoms of burn-out? Here are some signs and symptoms, alongside factors for employee burnout to watch out for:

Experts estimate that burnout causes anywhere from $150-$350 billion worth of losses annually for U.S. businesses. When nurses or healthcare staff feeling burned-out, it adversely effects patient outcomes and care. Facilities frequently require nurses to work long hours, rotate shifts, and take on additional tasks with infrequent breaks.

Studies have shown a direct correlation between nurse burnout and patient satisfaction. That is to say, healthcare staff with a positive outlook on their work environments provided better care—according to their patients— than staff that reported feelings of burnout.

How Do We Help with Burnout?

The first thing that can ease burnout is listening to listen. Listen for the signs and symptoms, and when staff comes to you with feelings of burnout. Then, act upon those concerns by creating solutions that benefit everyone. Such solutions include encouraging self-care and mindfulness in staff. Forbes recently published an article on the subject of mindfulness at work. In the study, those who practiced mindfulness for at least ten minutes each day showed many benefits including greater ability to focus, adapt to changes, collaborate with others, etc.

Particularly in senior living facilities, balancing staff during peak times is crucial. Busy times include morning routines, lunchtime, activities, vacations, holidays, snow days, and sick days. One of the most effective tools in preventing worker burnout is to ensure that enough staff is scheduled to cover needed assignments. Also, making sure that staff is properly trained and educated in senior care can help with patient care and staff satisfaction.

Encounter’s Role

Encounter Telepsychiatry, a division of Encounter Telehealth LLC, is helping facilities find new solutions to the burnout phenomenon. Encounter reduces staff stress by providing healthcare within the convenience of the facility. Therefore, care providers are no longer required to organize transportation, be removed from the facility for hours, wait in traffic or in doctor’s offices, etc.

Encounter also offers staff training for senior care. Proper training of staff can sure quality healthcare and safety for everyone. When staff is trained to use alternative, non-pharmacological interventions, studies have shown statistical benefits in patients with dementia—as well as higher staff satisfaction.

By integrating telehealth in the care of patients, Encounter focuses on the mental health of patients, thereby looking out for the wellness of staff. Encounter helps by supporting nursing staff with critical specialized mental healthcare.

To learn more about how Encounter eases staff stress, provides staff training, and our other services, visit HERE.