Caring for the Carers: Taking Burn-out Prevention Seriously

Annmaree Wilson1

1Senior Psychologist, CranaPlus Bush Support Services

Abstract

The purpose of this presentation is to highlight the very serious problem of burn-out in the remote health workforce and to promote the prioritising of self-care as a central, rather than secondary, activity to service provision. Research is showing that working as a nurse is a risk factor in developing symptoms of stress. Given that there is a growing body of psychological research that indicates that psychological resilience to stress can be achieved, it is important that health services become pro-active in building this capacity in their workforce.

One of the frequent features of the remote health workplace are nursing shortages and high staff turn-over. All health professionals working in remote settings, are exposed consistently to potentially traumatic and stressful situations. Experiencing high levels of stress, without adequate coping strategies, leads to burn-out.  When burn-out goes unaddressed or inappropriate coping strategies are implemented, the best possible scenario is staff leaving their positions for less stressful ones. At worst, burn-out leads to serious mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and depersonalisation. In both situations many lives are affected, patient care is compromised and the cost to society is very high.

This presentation will explore the literature that identifies the benefits of self -care capacity building. It will highlight the way Bush Support Services has incorporated this research into its’ self-care workshops by promoting personal well-being and adaptive coping.  The presentation will particularly address the how Mindfulness training, addressing relationships, cognitive issues, exercise, diet and creativity are necessary and essential skills to deal with the psychological demands of remote health work.

Biography

Dr Annmaree Wilson is the Senior Clinical Psychologist for Cranaplus Bush Support Services. She completed her undergraduate and post graduate degrees at the University of New South Wales. She completed her PhD from the University of New England in 2002. Annmaree has worked extensively as a Clinical Psychologist in rural and remote areas of New South Wales, particularly in the area of child, adolescent and family. She has a special interest in Positive Psychology and the use of creativity, such as art, singing and music, as  means of building psychological resilience.