What Is Compassion Fatigue?

Understanding Compassion Fatigue in the Nursing Care Industry

The Impact on Nursing Home Workers, In-Home Caregivers, and Facilities

The American Institute of Stress defines compassion fatigue as “the emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events.”

Compassion fatigue is a very real issue in the nursing care industry, particularly in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It is important for all of us—whether you are a nursing home staff worker, an in-home care provider, or an adult caring for your parents—to be aware of the signs of compassion fatigue.

Some of the most common signs include:

  • Chronic exhaustion—physical and emotional
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling burdened by others’ suffering


Compassion Fatigue in Nursing Home Workers

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, nursing home workers have carried on their work in an essential environment. Not only are they emotionally invested in the well-being of the patients they see on a daily basis, but they are also stressed about potentially taking disease home to their families. At McGregor, we provide grief counseling for our employees, which can help workers understand that what they are experiencing is more than burnout or just feeling tired. They can then take appropriate steps to manage their mental, emotional, and physical health.


Compassion Fatigue in At-Home Caregivers

Any adult that is caring for a parent in their home may experience compassion fatigue. They may find themselves struggling to explain to their parents why, due to the COVID-19 virus, they can no longer go out and carry on with their normal routines. They also may be burdened with conveying the importance of staying safe—including proper handwashing and following recommended sanitary practices—due to a compromised immune system. We want to remind all families and caregivers that McGregor understands the challenges you are facing, and we regularly share guidance and resources designed to help you during this time.


Compassion Fatigue in Nursing Home Facilities

This pandemic has caused unprecedented stress on workers, patients, and families of patients in nursing home facilities, heightening the prevalence of compassion fatigue. We have strived to treat one another with grace, patience, and kindness to help everyone involved ease their stress and maintain a positive attitude, but there is still a long road ahead.

At the time of writing this article, Governor Dewine has announced that beginning July 20, 2020, outside visitation at nursing homes will be permitted. The decision to move forward with outside visitation is up to the discretion of each facility. Understandably, this announcement has caused both relief and worry within the nursing care industry. We recognize the negative impact that prolonged loss of contact between residents and families can have on our residents’ quality of life. We also recognize that, until this point, those working within nursing homes felt safe due to the lack of outside contact.

McGregor intends to proceed with both mandated and recommended policies, including wearing masks and gloves, practicing social distancing, and potentially utilizing barriers to reduce risk. We also understand that our attitude toward residents, caregivers, and families during this time is critical, and we intend to move forward in the spirit of kindness.

If you have questions or concerns, we welcome you to contact our team. In the meantime, we hope you will better understand the signs and impact of compassion fatigue and also show yourselves grace and patience as you navigate challenging waters.