Caregivers are one of the most unheard and underserved groups in our society. Growing at exponential rates, they struggle with isolation, loneliness, and adverse health consequences at a much higher rate than the general population.
For as many challenges as we've faced in the past few years, I see a movement stirring around the kindness, empathy, and understanding that I see turning the tides of many organizations' value sets.
When you read this, I have no doubt a few hands went up. Who working in Senior Care these days does not need help?
I'm not going to talk about the gravity of staffing shortages. That would be nothing new and not the point of this article. So instead, I hope that our readers pick up a few pointers that help you solve a problem.
From a leader/employee perspective, let's look at the value of the question "Do you need help?"
Last year one of our team members here at AGE-u-cate was caring for her father, who had an unexpected and sudden onset of serious health events. In addition to helping her elementary-age students while schools went virtual, the day-to-day challenges of caring for her father became overwhelming. She is a dedicated team member, passionate about our mission, and was now living it herself. She was exhausted but continued to deliver work with her available time.
The stakes are different as the holidays arrive, especially in year #2 of the pandemic. While carols are playing, there are emotional minefields at every bend, especially for caregivers. This holiday season is a weary one for healthcare workers in the hospital setting to those serving in long-term care services.
For many, the holidays are a time of celebration and gatherings, but let us not forget those working tirelessly amid unprecedented staffing shortages and the sudden surge in COVID cases.
Research consistently reports that caregivers report much higher stress levels than the average person; it is a certainty that CNAs, PSWs, nurses, and other caregiving staff feel the additional strain of the holidays. Their professional burdens often transfer to their personal lives, leaving a domino effect of anxiety to entire families.
What can we do to honor and support caregivers this holiday (and always)?